Friday, March 24, 2017

Pres. Duterte graces PNPA graduation, boosts morale of new cops

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 24): Pres. Duterte graces PNPA graduation, boosts morale of new cops

President Rodrigo Duterte has vowed that the government will never abandon police personnel in pursuing a better and safer country as he welcomed fresh graduates of the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA).

“Never be discouraged, no matter how formidable the odds may be stacked against you. You will find that the most daunting situations will bring out the best of the people,” the Chief Executive told the 144 members of the Masidlak Class of 2017 during the commencement exercises in Silang, Cavite on Friday.

“The government will be with you as you fight in the front lines for that dream of a better tomorrow and safer Philippines.”

President Duterte called on the newly-minted officers to "remain strong in your heart and mind as you take on this great fight, because to see our country prosperous and our people safe and thriving will sometimes entail your sacrifice."

“You are part of the few who heeded the call to serve and emerged victorious. Losses and triumphs are inevitable in our ongoing battle against crime and corruption,” he said.

He also pledged that the government will ensure that the families of policemen will be taken care of.

“That is why we have increased the combat pay and incentives for our PNP uniformed personnel,” he said, adding that he has issued directives to provide assistance to the immediate families of fallen police personnel.

The President took time to acknowledge the fallen policemen and women for their contribution to the administration’s current war against illegal drugs and criminality.

“More than just policemen and women, let us remember that those brave souls, who were also family members, selflessly laid down their lives to see a better tomorrow for the present and future generations,” he said.

“We will not allow them to become mere statistics. We owe it to them, to ourselves, to our children to ensure that their sacrifice will not be in vain. That they died so [we may] have peace and order and stability for our country today.”

The President said the government will take care of the tuition fees of the fallen personnel’s children and will provide employment for their wives.

“Do not be afraid because we take care of your wives. They are automatically employed. Then the children, we take care of the tuition fees. I hope it would be institutionalized and that is my dream in about three to four years,” he said.

The President also said that he will push for a legislation that will create a trust fund for the families of police personnel.

“That is why I will assure you now, I’ll make you the guarantee that I will leave a legislation that will put in trust so many billions,” he said.

China will never dispute PHL’s rights over Benham Rise - Foreign Ministry says

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 25): China will never dispute PHL’s rights over Benham Rise - Foreign Ministry says

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has assured that China will not and will never dispute the Philippines’ rights over the Benham Rise continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles from nation’s shore.

”Since someone from the Philippines are still playing it up, I’d like to say a few more words about it,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying responded when asked to comment about persistent Philippine media reports about Chinese vessels’ passage for marine scientific research across waters near Benham Rise.

Hua said the Chinese Foreign Ministry has repeatedly expressed China’s position since the issue came out in the Philippine media more than 10 days ago.

She said China recognized that the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf has approved the submission made by the Philippines in 2009 in respect to the limits of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles.

”The Chinese side fully respects the Philippines' rights and interests over the Benham Rise region. There has never been and will not be any dispute over this region between China and the Philippines,” Hua told the media last Thursday.

Hua clarified that while the Chinese vessels for maritime scientific research did sail across the relevant waters to the northeast of Luzon of the Philippines “they did not conduct any operations or other activities.”

She said the international laws including the United Nation Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) do not prohibit foreign ships’ navigation within the coastal state’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and on the high seas.

”Chinese vessels enjoy navigation freedom and the right to innocent passage,” Hua said.

The Philippines and China relations has made big turnaround following a fruitful visit of President Rodrigo Duterte to Beijing in October last year.

”Since last year, thanks to the concerted efforts of China and the Philippines, the Sino-Philippine relations have witnessed all-round improvement, which serves the common interests and meets the needs of the two countries and two peoples,” Hua said.

She said China will continue to give great importance to the China-Philippine relations and cherishes the sound developing momentum of the bilateral relations.

”Going forward, China will remain committed to properly addressing relevant maritime issues together with the Philippines,” Hua said.

In an effort to renew the Philippines-China relation, President Duterte has temporarily shelved an international tribunal decision favoring the Philippines’ arbitration case against China’s nine-dash line claim in the South China Sea.

The popular Filipino leader’s move has resulted in over USD24 billion investment pledges and funding from China and has improved a lot the bilateral trade between the two countries.

In previous media interview, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the Philippines and China had agreed to establish bilateral consultation on the issue of South China Sea.

Hua said China is creating favorable atmosphere for the healthy, stable and fast development of the China-Philippine relations as well as the progress of mutually beneficial and friendly cooperation in various fields.

”As neighbors facing each other across the sea, China and the Philippines have closely engaged in exchanges, and the two peoples have enjoyed friendship over generations,” she said.

2 ASG bandits killed, 1 captured, 5 bancas seized in Basilan ops

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 25): 2 ASG bandits killed, 1 captured, 5 bancas seized in Basilan ops

Two Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits were killed while another was arrested during a series of focused military operations conducted in Basilan province in the past two days.

In the operations, five motorized bancas belonging to the bandits were also seized, Western Mindanao Command (WMC) spokesperson Capt. Jo-ann Petinglay said Saturday.

Shot dead in the 7:45 a.m. operation last March 23 in Barangay Lahi-Lahi, Tuburan was ASG member Bistahan K. Nisalun alias "Upang-Upang".

Petinglay said Nisalun fired at government security troops out to arrest him, triggering the confrontation that led to his death.

Nisalun has been the subject of a counter-surveillance operation and was monitored several times hunting for potential victims, along with ASG sub-leader Mike Usman Lidjal, in Zamboanga City.

At about 9 a.m. on the same day, another ASG member was arrested by troops of the 64th Infantry Battalion in a strike operation conducted at the residence of Vanessa Lajiman, barangay kagawad of Tumahubong, Sumisip, also in Basilan.

Rolly Ikih, 47, has a standing warrant of arrest for robbery and arson.

Troops were deployed to arrest the suspect after information was received claiming that four heavily armed men were seen in Lajiman's home.

Seized from Ikih was a .45-caliber pistol and six live ammunition. He will be charged with illegal possession of firearm.

Meanwhile, ongoing pursuit operations against ASG members involved in the Sibago Island piracy attack resulted in the death of a bandit identified as Jaudi Salupuddin.

The latter was severely wounded in a gun battle with troopers of the 19th Special Forces Company in Basilan.

Petinglay said Salupuddin initially escaped but was eventually turned over by the barangay official of Tuburan to the military.

He died while being transferred to a nearby medical facility. Seized from him were M-16 automatic rifles with two short magazines and a motorized banca.

Salupuddin was among the ASG bandits responsible for the piracy attack on a Panamanian-registered cargo vessel, Super Shuttle, Ro-Ro9, in Sibago island, during which the ship's tugboat Capt. Aurelio Agacac and its Chief Engineer, Laurence Tiro, both Filipinos, were forcibly taken by the bandits.

At about 4 p.m. also on March 23, a Navy patrol boat on maritime patrol off the Al-Barka coast, impounded two pump boats belonging to the bandits.

And at 8 a.m. on March 24, WMC troops also impounded two large motorized bancas in Sitio Kapago, Barangay Candiis, Tuburan.

Troops rescue kidnapped boat captain in Basilan

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 25): Troops rescue kidnapped boat captain in Basilan

Pursuing government troops on Saturday rescued the skipper of the tugboat towing a cargo vessel hijacked by suspected Abu Sayyaf bandits two days ago off Basilan province.

Col. Juvymax Uy, Joint Task Force Basilan commander, confirmed to the Philippine News Agency (PNA) that Aurelio Agacac is now in the custody of the troops after he was rescued at about 5:30 a.m. Saturday in Barangay Basakan in the coastal town of Hadji Mohammad Ajul.

Agacac is the skipper of M/T Tug R9 towing the cargo vessel, Super Shuttle RoRo 9.

“He (Agacac) was rescued. Of course, we are still looking for the other kidnapped victim. Operation continues relentlessly,” Uy said.

On Thursday, the Abu Sayyaf bandits hijacked M/T Tug R9 and forcibly took Agacac, along with his chief engineer, Laurencio Tiro, in the vicinity of Sibago Island, Hadji Mohammad Ajul town.

Uy did not provide further details on the circumstances that led to the rescue of Agacac, but said they beefed up their operation following the brazen attack of the Abu Sayyaf on Thursday.

Earlier, operating troops from the 19th Special Forces Company of the 4th Special Forces Battalion killed an Abu Sayyaf member, Jaudi Salupuddin, during a hot pursuit operation in Tuburan town following the hijack incident in the neighboring municipality of Hadji Mohammad Ajul.

“He was fatally wounded when he was turned over, prompting the military to evacuate him to the nearest medical station. However, he expired along the way,” Capt. Jo-ann Petinglay, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) information officer, said.

Petinglay said Salupuddin was among those involved in the hijack of M/T Tug R9.

The troops also recovered an M-16 rifle with two short magazines of ammunition and a motorized banca used by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in the kidnapping.

On Friday, the military also recovered one colored light blue motorboat locally known as “bote-bote” with a 10-person capacity, and one yellow outrigger-type motorboat with a four-person capacity at Sitio Kapago, Barangay Candiis, Tuburan.

Both boats were positively identified as the ones used in the hijacking of M/T Tug R9 and their engines were already removed.

Maj. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., Westmincom commander, said a pursuit operation is still ongoing in coordination with the police forces in Basilan province.

“WestMinCom is doing its best to rescue all the kidnap victims within our area of operations. However, this is one challenge that your Armed Forces cannot address alone. We need the help and the support of every peace-loving Filipinos in this fight,” Galvez said.

“As of this report, Westmincom troops are working doubly hard to track and rescue the remaining sailor (Tiro) and the other kidnap victims. We will use all means to rescue the remaining hostages.”

Prior to the hijack on Thursday, troops from the 3rd Scout Ranger Battalion under the Joint Task Force Basilan and members of the Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team (BPAT) launched an assault against the Abu Sayyaf in Tuburan town.

At least one Abu Sayyaf member identified as Bistahan Nisalun, alias Upang-Upang, was killed during the assault in Barangay Lahi-Lahi, Tuburan. He was a known follower of Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Abdullah Indanan alias Abdullah Jhovel or Guru, Petinglay said.

The Philippine military is operating on a six-month deadline imposed by President Rodrigo Duterte to finish off the Abu Sayyaf, which has carried out a string of maritime kidnappings over the past year.

The deadline will lapse on June 30.

Military clearing operations underway at village seized by NPAs in N. Cotabato

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 24): Military clearing operations underway at village seized by NPAs in N. Cotabato
Authorities are conducting clearing operations in upland Barangay Camutan here seized overnight by some 100 New People’s Army (NPA) rebels, officials said Friday morning.

Sr. Insp. Rolando Dillera, Antipas police chief, said more families were forced to vacate their homes and stayed at the village center as tension continues to grip the village amid ongoing military pursuit operation.

Currently, a total of 181 families coming from Sitio Malapangi, Embagan and Matias in Barangay Camutan and Sitio Patot, Barangay Datu Agod are sheltered in designated evacuation sites at the town proper.

“The military is pushing away the rebels and clearing the area from landmines that were possibly mounted by the withdrawing rebels,” Dillera said.

He maintained that so far, there were no reported casualties on both civilians and government forces following the Thursday dawn siege staged by the rebels in Camutan village.

Mayor Equidio Cadungon temporarily suspended classes in all levels in the villages of Canaan, Camutan and Sitio Embagan for security purposes.

“We are still awaiting the go - signal from authorities to send back home safely the displaced families,” the mayor said.

A military report identified the rebel leader behind the incident as Commander Joel of the NPA Guerilla Front 53, which operates in North Cotabato province.

The same report said that the rebels were trying to persuade the villagers to join their group, but the locals opted to evacuate and informed authorities about the presence of the NPAs in their area.

The atrocity here took place a week after President Rodrigo Duterte laid down several conditions for the resumption of the stalled talks between government and the communist rebels.

Troops, NPA rebels clash in South Cotabato's Tampakan town

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 24): Troops, NPA rebels clash in South Cotabato's Tampakan town

Fierce fighting erupted Friday morning between government troops and suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in an upland village in Tampakan town in South Cotabato.

Sr. Insp. Harold Cornel, Tampakan municipal police station chief, said the clashes ensued after about 50 heavily-armed rebels attacked a detachment of the Citizen’s Armed Forces Geographical Unit at around 7:15 a.m.

He said there were no immediate reports of casualties from both sides.

Citing reports from village officials, he said Cafgu personnel manning the detachment managed to fight back, triggering the firefight.

Cornel said the Army’s 27th Infantry Battalion immediately sent reinforcements to the site, which is located near the base camp of mining firm Sagittarius Mines Inc.

“It’s (fighting) still ongoing at this time and there were already reports of evacuations in nearby communities,” he said in an interview before noon over radio station dxKR.

Sr. Supt. Franklin Alvero, South Cotabato police director, said he has sent police personnel to the area to assist the operations.

He alerted all police offices and stations in the province for possible attacks from other NPA units.

Prior to the incident, the police officials said they monitored movements of NPA rebels in the hinterland areas of the province.

He specifically cited parts of Barangay Ned in Lake Sebu and the province’s boundaries with Sarangani Province in T’boli town and with Sultan Kudarat in Tampakan.

Alvero said the rebel movements started a day after NPA rebels ambushed a unit of the Philippine Marines in Sitio Tinangdanan, Barangay Hinalaan in Kalamansig, Sultan Kudarat that killed a trooper and wounded eight others.

71 SPO4s ready to join PNP roster of commissioned officers

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 25): 71 SPO4s ready to join PNP roster of commissioned officers

After four months of rigorous training, 71 Senior Police Non-Commissioned Officers aspiring to be part of the PNP Roster of Commissioned Officers completed the Public Safety Officers Candidate Course (PSOCC) Friday at the Regional Training Center 2 in Cauayan City, Isabela.

Police Regional Office 2 (PRO2) information officer police superintendent Chevalier Iringan said out of 71 graduates, 46 are organic personnel of PRO2 while 25 are from National Support Units (NSUs).

“The PNP organization recognizes your ability to be a leader…. To be an officer with such, only those of the best character, attitude and indeed committed can possibly rise deservingly to towering heights,” Deputy Regional Director for Administration, PSSupt. Renato C. Angara, guest of honor and speaker during the graduation ceremony, said.

Angara challenged the graduates to bring their task with the greatest degree of Honesty, Integrity, Dignity, Patience and observe the highest degree of maximum tolerance and wisdom.

The PSOCC is designed to equip the said Senior Police Officers with the fundamental knowledge, skills and proper attitude required for a Police Commissioned Officer (PCO).

The Academic Phase is composed of six modules namely; General Subject, Communication, Leadership and Management, Law, Police Related Subjects and Police Tactics/Basic Combat Training (ISO) while the Non- Academic Phase include Drills and Ceremonies, Defensive Tactics, Physical Fitness Test (PFT), Reveille, Moral and Spiritual Enrichment and Firearms Proficiency and Practical Shooting.

Said schooling is a mandatory training for Senior Police Officers to qualify them for promotion to the rank of Inspector.

Reds free 2 militiamen in Davao Oriental

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 25): Reds free 2 militiamen in Davao Oriental

Two members of the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) previously captured by the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels were released Friday afternoon in Barangay Limot, Tarragona town in Davao Oriental.

Paramilitary men Rene Doller and Carl Mark Nucos were forcibly taken on February 14 in Barangay Don Mariano Marcos, Lupon, Davao Oriental, at a checkpoint mounted by the communist rebels.

Doller, 34, and Nucos, 24, are members of the CAFGU under the 72nd Infantry Battalion.

They were released to the group Exodus for Justice and Peace (EJP). Davao Oriental board member Louie Rabat also witnessed the release on Friday.

Family members of the freed militiamen joined the EJP and Rabat during the official release in the area.

In a copy of the release order sent to the media here, the National Democratic Front (NDFP)- Southern Mindanao Region said the release is NDFP’s "favorable response" to the widespread appeal of the families of the paramilitary men.

The NDFP also earlier committed to release all its prisoners-of-war as part of the peace process.

2 NPA rebels, militiaman killed in Agusan Sur firefight

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 24): 2 NPA rebels, militiaman killed in Agusan Sur firefight

Two New People’s Army (NPA) rebels and a militiaman were killed as fresh fighting erupted anew in Agusan del Sur Thursday afternoon, a belated military report reaching here said Friday.

“We acted upon the report that a group of armed NPAs were (conducting) extortion activities in the said community," Lt. Col. Rommel Pagayon, commanding officer of the Army’s 26 Infantry Battalion in Agusan Del Sur, said.

He said that the encounter took place in Bunucayan, an outskirt village in the municipality of Loreto, Agusan Del Sur.

According to Pagayon, the NPA rebels indiscriminately fired on the government troopers despite the presence of the civilians in the village, which resulted in a 30-minute running gun battle.

He said that two unidentified NPA rebels were killed, their firearms recovered along the rebel’s escape route.

Pagayon did not name the slain CAFGU member pending notification to his family.

He said the government troops also recovered subversive documents and personal belongings at the scene of the encounter.

Pagayaon said that the military is offering medical assistance to the wounded NPA rebels who were reportedly carried by their comrades on their withdrawal route.

10th ID lauds bravery of soldiers amidst NPA attacks in Mindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 24): 10th ID lauds bravery of soldiers amidst NPA attacks in Mindanao

The leadership of the 10th Infantry (Agila) Division of the Philippine Army lauded the bravery of soldiers who defended communities in the series of attacks staged by communists New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in the provinces of Davao Oriental, North Cotabato and Bukidnon.

Major General Rafael Valencia, 10th ID commander, commended the officers and men of various army units in the said provinces for their courage and valor in securing the communities and residents.

"We cannot allow the NPA (rebels) to sow fear among the people," Valencia said in a statement on Friday.

He specifically mentioned troopers of the 67th Infantry Battalion in Davao Oriental; the 39th Infantry Battalion in North Cotabato; and 60th Infantry Battalion in Bukidnon, army units which engaged NPA rebels in their respective areas of operations on Thursday, March 23.

One soldier was killed during the attacks while three others were wounded, the army’s statement said.

The first encounter took place at around 9:15 a.m. Thursday when 60th IB troopers and NPA rebels belonging to Guerrilla Front 55 engaged in a 45-minute firefight in Barangay Cayaga, San Fernando, Bukidnon.

No soldier was hurt during the encounter but the army believed the rebels suffered heavy casualties as they fled away from the encounter site.

The second and third encounters happened at around 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. respectively, when combined elements of the 67th IB and 66th IB encountered a group of NPAs belonging to Pulang Bagani Company (PBC) 8 in Sitio Maglahos, Barangay PM Sobrecary, Caraga, Davao Oriental.

In the 9:30 a.m. encounter, two soldiers were hurt during an IED explosion, identified as Corporals Zhelmer Roquero and Hansen Dave Pajarillo, the army said.

In the 11:30 a.m. encounter, Sgt Leo Lugo, was killed when an IED exploded. PFC Rodulfo Bascon was also wounded in the explosion .
The fourth encounter on Thursday took place at around 7:20 p.m. when the joint Army-PNP team composed of troops of 39th IB and the Cotabato Police Public Safety Company (PPSC) responded to the reported NPA presence in Sitio Malapangi, Barangay Camutan, Antipas, North Cotabato.

The NPAs, who belong to Guerrilla Front 53, fled after 10 minutes of fighting, the army reported.

Valencia said the NPAs in Antipas, particularly in Barangay Camutan, were forcing the residents to join their movement.

Due to fear, around 237 families from the area and neighboring barangays evacuated to the town center of Antipas.

PN recognized as one of world's best organizations in strategy execution

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 23): PN recognized as one of world's best organizations in strategy execution

An international body has recognized the Philippine Navy (PN) as one of the best organizations in terms of strategy execution.

This was after the PN was inducted in the Palladium Balanced Scorecard (BSC) Hall of Fame (HoF) for Executing Strategy last March 21.

Navy spokesperson Capt. Lued Lincuna said PN chief-of-naval staff Rear Adm. Gaudencio C. Collado, Jr., received the award in behalf of the Navy during the Palladium Summit 2017 in London, United Kingdom.

He was accompanied by the PN Director of the Center for Naval Leadership and Excellence, Capt. Armil M. Angeles.

Lincuna said the PN was the first national government agency in the country to join the outstanding line of Palladium BSC Hall of Famers.

It is comprised of public and private organizations that have successfully implemented their strategies and delivered positive social impact using the BSC management framework, including Canon, HSBC, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the US Army, and the United Kingdom Ministry of Defense.

From the Philippines, only three local government units- Iloilo City, and San Fernando City in Pampanga and La Union - have been previously inducted to the Palladium BSC Hall of Fame. The City of Balanga, Bataan also joins the Hall of Fame alongside the Navy.

The recognition was given after the Navy successfully presented a compelling case of sustainable transformation and institutionalization of good governance through the PN Strategic Sail Plan 2020.

Crafted in 2006 as the main organizational development strategy of the PN, the Sail Plan aimed to lift the organization from the dismal state of its institution, personnel morale, and ships and assets.

Since then, the Sail Plan has served as the PN’s guide in pursuing its vision to be a strong and credible navy that our maritime nation can be proud of by 2020.

The Sail Plan adopted the BSC as its management framework, aligned and synchronized with existing government and defense policy frameworks.

Duterte leads PSG change of command rites

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 23): Duterte leads PSG change of command rites

President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday led the turnover rites of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) at the unit’s headquarters at MalacaƱang Park, Manila.

During the event, Brig. Gen. Rolando Joselito D. Bautista turned over the PSG command to Col. Lope C. Dagoy.

Bautista came from Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Sandiwa Class '85 while Dagoy is from Hinirang Class '87.

Prior to his new appointment, Dagoy was President Rodrigo Duterte's senior military adviser.

He was also the chief of staff of Eastern Mindanao Command chief General Rey Leonardo Guerrero, and served in the army's 10th Infantry Division.
Dagoy is the second PSG commander under the Duterte administration.

Meanwhile, outgoing PSG chief Bautista was assigned as new head of the 1st Infantry Division of the Philippine Army based in Pagadian City, Zamboanga del Sur.

As head of the 1ID, Bautista will lead the government’s anti-terror war in Basilan and Sulu.

Bautista has extensive knowledge of the Basilan area, having served as the commander of the Joint Task Group in Basilan prior to his stint at the PSG.

In his speech, President Duterte thanked Bautista for the nine months he had served as head of the prestigious command tasked with protecting the President and his family.

He also expressed his full trust and confidence to Dagoy.

The President said that the government’s war against drugs, corruption and criminality has made him many enemies.

“These are the people who do not wish to see me or the Philippines to succeed,” Duterte said as he highlighted the formidable task that the PSG faces.

“He (Dagoy) will have his hands full. I am confident that his outstanding credentials and considerable experience will enable him to lead the PSG effectively,” he said.

“I fully entrust the protection of myself and my family to him and to the entire PSG,” Duterte said.

Cadets from Mindanao dominate top 10 PNPA graduates

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 23): Cadets from Mindanao dominate top 10 PNPA graduates

Cadets from Mindanao dominate the top 10 students of the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) who will graduate in Camp Castaneda, in Silang, Cavite on Friday.

Seven of the top 10 of the “Masidlak Class of 2017” hail from Mindanao led by top 1 Cdt. Darping Enca from Cotabato.

The others are top 2 Cdt. Midzfar Hamis Omar -- Tawi-Tawi; top 3 Cdt. Jan Ace Elcid Pascua Layug – Tondo, Manila; top 4 Cdt. Juan Paolo Alday Porciuncula -- Sta. Maria, Bulacan; top 5 Cdt. Harley Glenn Bacarro – Cagayan de Oro City; top 6 Cdt. Michael Salendab Daunotan – Cagayan de Oro City; top 7 Cdt. Ian Rey Canen Diolanto -- Sultan Kudarat; topd8 Cdt. Abdulcahar Bacarat Armama – Cotabato and top 9 Cdt. Michael John Suniega Sentinta -- Sultan Kudarat.

Only one woman cadette is on the top 10 graduates of the PNPA -- Maysy Villaflor Cataquiz from Quezon province.

Six of the top 10 PNPA graduates will serve in the Philippine National Police (PNP), two in the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and two in the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).

Of the 365 cadets who entered the PNPA in 2013, only 144 of them will graduate this year wherein 22 are women.

Military personnel get discounts in selected shops in BGC

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 24): Military personnel get discounts in selected shops in BGC

Showing their appreciation to the valiant soldiers who are defending the country against all forms of threats, the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) on Friday announced that all military personnel and their dependents can avail of discounts and other privileges in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City.

Philippine Army (PA) spokesperson Col. Benjamin Hao said this incentive is good from March 22 to April 30, and part of their "Sundalo ko, Bayani Ko" project.

Helping the Army in this event are the BCDA, Fort Bonifacio Development Center, Station Square East Commercial, Ayala Malls, and Serendra.

Hao said the project is a joint social responsibility activity which was first launched in 2014. It aims to give honor and recognition to the heroism of our soldiers.

Veteran and active members of the PA and other major units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and their dependents are the beneficiaries of the program.

Hao said these personnel must present a valid AFP identification card in the participating shops in order to avail of the discounts, privileges, or other similar offerings and services of the “Sundalo Ko, Bayani Ko” program.

Also on all Sundays from March 22 until April 30, children of soldiers may also explore The Mind Museum located in Taguig for free while their adult companion will be given a special discount.

The PA spokesperson said soldiers and their dependents may visit to get the list of the participating shops and merchants for the “Sundalo Ko, Bayani Ko” project and the promos and discounts they offer.

PN ships to regularly patrol Benham Rise - Lorenzana

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 24): PN ships to regularly patrol Benham Rise - Lorenzana

Philippine Navy (PN) ships will now be a common sight in the 13-million hectare Benham Rise which lies off the Aurora and Isabela coast.

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana disclosed this on Friday shortly after the deployment of the BRP Ramon Alcaraz (FF-16) in the area was made public.

The ship and her crew were conducting sovereignty patrols in the wake of reports that Chinese survey ships were spotted in the maritime area last year.

"The Navy will henceforth regularly patrol Benham Rise partly due to past Chinese activities there but more importantly, because it is part of our continental shelf," he added.

Lorenzana said Philippine presence in Benham Rise is only fitting as the territory was awarded to the country by the United Nations in 2012.

"Our next activity is to have the area surveyed to clearly determine its limits, depths, coral formations, etc," the DND chief stressed.

Earlier, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said BRP Gregorio Velasquez (AGR-702), the Philippine Navy (PN)'s sole survey and hydrographic ship, can be deployed for survey missions off the Benham Rise should President Rodrigo Duterte and Lorenzana formalize the order.

The BRP Gregorio Velasquez (formerly the R/V Melville) was one of the two ex-American ships pledged by then President Barack Obama during his visit to the Philippines during the APEC Leaders Summit in November 2015.

The other ship was the USCGC Boutwell which is now renamed the BRP Andres Bonifacio (FF-17) and the third Hamilton-class cutter in the PN service.

The BRP Gregorio Velasquez was commissioned into PN service in June 2016.

The R/V Melville was used in the 1976 movie King Kong, starring Jessica Lange.

It was used specifically because of its Hypoid propulsion drive (at that time), which allowed it to move sideways. This type of drive is used on research vessels for station keeping in the ocean over drill and coring sites.

Per policy, auxiliary research vessels are to be named after national scientists, hence her namesake, Dr. Gregorio Velasquez, a pioneer in Philippine physiology.

Velasquez was elected as academician on 1978 and conferred as National Scientist on 1982.

He was conferred with a Distinguished Science Medal and Diploma of Honor from the Republic of the Philippines (1956), the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (1956-57), Men of Science, Division of Biological Sciences in1969, World's Who's Who in Sciences in 1970 and the Republic of the Philippines Cultural Heritage award in 1972.

Trooper killed, 3 others hurt in clashes in Bukidnon, Davao Oriental

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 24): Trooper killed, 3 others hurt in clashes in Bukidnon, Davao Oriental

A soldier was killed while three others were wounded following a series of encounters between the military and New People's Army (NPA) rebels in Bukidnon and Davao Oriental Thursday.

The first encounter occurred at about 9:15 a.m. when troops of the 60th Infantry Battalion and insurgents belonging to the NPA's Guerrilla Front 55 engaged in a 45-minute firefight in Barangay Cayaga, San Fernando, Bukidnon.

Capt. Rhyan Batchar, 10th Infantry Division public affairs office chief, said there was no casualty from the military in this clash, while an undetermined number of rebels were killed and wounded as they retreated.

The second and third encounters happened at about 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., when combined troops of the 67th and 66th Infantry Battalions clashed with NPA members of Pulang Bagani Company 8 in Sitio Maglahos, Barangay PM Sobrecary, Caraga, Davao Oriental.
The 9:30 a.m. encounter transpired when the soldiers chanced upon the rebels, triggering a five-minute gunfight in the locality.

Two hours later, insurgents triggered an improvised explosive device against reinforcing troops of the 67th Infantry Battalion, resulting in a 30-minute confrontation.

In this series of clashes Corporals Zhelmer Roquero and Hansen Dave Pajarillo, and Pfc. Rodulfo Bascon were wounded while Sgt. Leo Lugo was killed.

Batchar said the casualties were immediately airlifted to the Camp Panacan Station Hospital.

2 rebels killed, undetermined number wounded in Agusan del Sur gunfight

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 24): 2 rebels killed, undetermined number wounded in Agusan del Sur gunfight

Two New People's Army (NPA) insurgents were reported killed while an undetermined number were wounded following a clash with 26th Infantry Battalion troopers in Loreto town, Agusan del Sur Thursday afternoon.

Capt. Joe Patrick Martinez, 4th Infantry Division public affairs office chief, said the encounter took place at about 1:30 p.m. at the vicinity of Sitio Mandanao, Barangay Bunucayan in Loreto.

Government troops were responding to complaints of NPA extortion efforts in the community when the clash took place, resulting in the death of two rebels and wounding of several others.

Recovered from the encounter scene were an AK-47 automatic rifle and an Akkar 12-gauge shotgun, subversive documents and assorted personal belongings.
No loss was reported on the part of the 26th Infantry Battalion, Martinez said.

Pursuit operations are ongoing.

US gov't. turns over PHP1B potable water project

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 24): US gov't. turns over PHP1B potable water project

The commitment made by the United States government since 2013 to help elevate the lives of less fortunate Filipinos in far flung provinces continues after it turned over on Wednesday less than a billion peso project to give lucky recipients safe and clean drinking water which they entrusted to the Philippine government after its completion.

“Through our partnership with the Philippine government, more than 1.3 million Filipinos have gained access to improved sanitation and over 1.5 million more now have access to safe and clean drinking water,” said U.S. Ambassador Sung Kim in his keynote address during the finale ceremony of U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Water Security for Resilient Economic Growth and Stability Project (Be Secure).

The embassy has joined the world in celebrating World Water Day on March 22. Ambassador Kim joined Philippine government representatives to celebrate the success of Be Secure, a PHP966-million program that increased access to safe water and sanitation in the Visayas and Mindanao regions.

The US Embassy said Be Secure implemented a four-year partnership between USAID and the Philippine Department of Public Works and Highways to promote good governance, improve access to water and sanitation, and enhance resilience to variances in weather and climate trends in the cities of Cagayan de Oro, Iloilo, Zamboanga and in the provinces of Basilan, Maguindanao and Leyte.

During the ceremony, USAID also awarded warranties for water systems at 10 sites, including schools and health clinics. These warranties will cover the cost of possible damage from future typhoons and floods.

To implement Be Secure, the embassy explained that USAID coordinated with national government agencies, local governments, water utilities, private sector, media, non-governmental organizations and academic institutions.

It was launched in 2013 and, having achieved its objectives, will officially close in July 2017.