Friday, February 2, 2018

DWDD: RENOVATED | Blessing of 801IBde Bachelor Officers Quarter

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Feb 2): RENOVATED  |  Blessing of 801IBde Bachelor Officers Quarter


HINABANGAN, Samar (DWDD) – The 801st Infantry “Bantay at Gabay” Brigade troopers including personnel from Operational Control units under Colonel Alex DC Luna INF (GSC) PA, Brigade Commander participates during the blessing of new fully renovated Bachelor Officers Quarter officiated by Captain John O Geronimo CHS, Command Chaplain, 8ID, PA at Hinabangan, Samar on January 27, 2018. 801IBde/MCAG

DWDD: MAIDEN FLIGHT | PN C90 Aircraft used in NOLCOM Area

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Feb 2): MAIDEN FLIGHT  |  PN C90 Aircraft used in NOLCOM Area

CAMP SERVILLANO AQUINO, Tarlac (DWDD) – The Northern Luzon Command employed the Beech craft King Air C90 aircraft, the newly commissioned fixed-wing aircraft of the Philippine Navy donated by the Japanese government, for the first time in the conduct of Maritime Air Patrol (MARAPAT) in the maritime domain within Northern Luzon.


Given the task, the C90 plane, with a tail number of 390, made its maiden flight at 9:45 AM of January 31, 2018, in the area of Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal), Masinloc, Zambales. It has flown around the shoal for about eight hundred (800) feet above sea level sighting four (4) Filipino fishing boats, together with nine (9) Chinese vessels comprising of four (4) Chinese Coast Guard vessels, four (4) unknown Chinese vessels and a Chinese fishing vessel. Moreover, the Filipino pilots heard no challenge from the Chinese Cost Guard.

The deployment of C90 plane to monitor the area in the famous shoal, located in the West Philippine Sea, will be its first military mission given by NOLCOM. Its employment boosted the capability of the Navy to conduct limited airlift, reconnaissance and surveillance within the Area of Responsibility of NOLCOM. It will also complement the efforts of the Philippine Air Force to monitor and watch over the three (3) maritime areas in Northern and Central Luzon.

NOLCOM will utilize all available assets and resources to protect our national territory, including its northern maritime areas, and assert our sovereign rights over our maritime domain. NOLCOM will continue to do its mandate that will be non-provocative strictly adhering to the International Law and in line with the directives and policies of the national government. NOLCOM / MCAG

DWDD: HEADQUARTERS SUPPORT | Army Support Group has a new commander

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Feb 2): HEADQUARTERS SUPPORT  |  Army Support Group has a new commander

FORT ANDRES BONIFACIO, Metro Manila (DWDD) –The Philippine Army has installed a new camp commander for the Headquarters and Headquarters Support Group during a Change of Command Ceremony held on January 31, 2018.

Brigadier General Roy T. Devesa is the new designated commander of the Headquarters and Headquarters Support Group, Philippine Army. He replaced Colonel Kiram-Azgar A. Grajo who temporarily acted after the retirement of the recent post commander, Brigadier General Rodel Mauro R. Alarcon on January 24, 2017.

Army Vice Commander Major General Robert M. Arevalo presided the Change of Command Ceremony. The event was witnessed by headquarters based officers, enlisted personnel and civilian employees.

Devesa is a member of the Philippine Military Academy “Sandiwa” class 1985.

Prior to his post, Devesa served as Brigade Commander of 503rd Infantry Brigade in 2015 and recently as Assistant Division Commander of the Army’s 5th Infantry Division based in Upi, Gamu, Isabela. OACPA / MCAG

DWDD: SUCCESSFUL CAMPAIGN | AFP neutralized 18 Communist Terrorist in January alone

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Feb 2): SUCCESSFUL CAMPAIGN  |  AFP neutralized 18 Communist Terrorist in January alone

CAMP GEN EMILIO AGUINALDO, Quezon City (DWDD) – The Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) successfully neutralized 18 members of the terrorist group New People’s Army due to focused military operations in the first three weeks of January 2018.

According to Lt. Col. Emmanuel R. Garcia, chief of the AFP’s Public Affairs Office, their success of the campaign was due to close coordination between authorities and the local communities regarding the presence of Communist Terrorists conducting extortion and other forms of atrocities.

Last week, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the AFP to neutralize the terrorist group NPA so that our countryside can achieve peace and progress.

The AFP has been gaining in its fight against the communist terrorist group since the government was forced to suspend talks National Democratic Front (NDF) last year due to continued attacks by its armed wing, where a total of 163 communist terrorists were killed in different military operations nationwide.

In the meantime, a total of 188 communist terrorist returned to the fold of the law in the first three weeks of January, where they were provided with financial assistance, livelihood, remuneration for their surrendered firearms, and livelihood training for a renewed life. AFP PAO / MCAG

DWDD: NEW LEADERSHIP | Welcome and Farewell Ceremony for 69IB and 56IB

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Feb 2): NEW LEADERSHIP  |  Welcome and Farewell Ceremony for 69IB and 56IB

FORT RAMON MAGSAYSAY, Nueva Ecija (DWDD) – A Welcome Ceremony will be held for the 69th Infantry “We Dare” Battalion while a Send-off Ceremony is slated for the 56th infantry “Tatag” Battalion on February 4, 2018 to be held at the Headquarters Grandstand of the 7th Infantry “Kaugnay” Division at Fort Ramon Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija.

The 69th infantry (Cougar) Battalion will be coming from Jolo, Sulu, where they were assigned for a year and a half, not counting the previous seven years deployment in other areas of Mindanao.

They played an important role in a joint security operation, monitoring terror plans and actions that limited and hampered the ASG’s maneuver space within their AOR and cut the group’s popular support from the local populace.

The 56th infantry (Tatag) Battalion) has been involved in several landmark activities that sustained peace and security in the province of Aurora.

They were able to recover 10 insurgency camps from Aurora to Nueva Ecija and has been an active partner of the DENR on stopping illegal logging. The Battalion will be sent to an area in Mindanao. 7DPAO / MCAG

DWDD: NEW LEADERSHIP | 53IB Change of Command Ceremony

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Feb 2): NEW LEADERSHIP  |  53IB Change of Command Ceremony


CAMP MAJ DAVID SABIDO, Guipos, Zamboanga Del Sur (DWDD) – A Change of Command was held at the 53rd InfantryMatapat Battalion Headquarters at Guipos, Zamboanga Del Sur

The ceremony was officiated by Major General Roseller G.Murillo, Commander, 1st Infantry Tabak Division, and witnessed by Mayor Maria Dolores Albarico-Baya.

Lieutenant Colonel Virgilio Hamos transferred leadership of the 53IB to LTC Marlowe Patria, former Commander of the 7th Civil Relations Group, Civil Relations Service, AFP. AES / MCAG

Alleged new recruits of the Maute group, at least 100 — Col. Brawner

From UNTV (Jan 31): Alleged new recruits of the Maute group, at least 100 — Col. Brawner

The military said that the Maute terrorist group is strengthening its force by being able to recruit around 100 new members in Lanao del Sur.

This is in line with the alleged regrouping of the ISIS-inspired Maute terrorist group.

Col. Romeo Brawner Jr., the spokesman of the Joint Task Force Ranao, revealed that the Maute group already has an estimated of around 100 new recruits in the province of Lanao del Sur.

“Wala na ung Maute-ISIS dito sa Marawi pero sa paligid… nagrerecruit sila ngayon sa paligid ng Lanao Lake. It’s just an estimate about a hundred yung na recruit nila,” said the deputy commander.  (The Maute group is no longer in Marawi, but they are still around. They are recruiting members in Lanao lake. It’s just an estimate, they have an estimated of about a hundred recruits.)

Just last week, the government troops battled in various areas which led to the arrest of several Maute group members.

“May encounter last week sa Masho. May encounter sa Pagayawan. May na capture tayong member nila sa Piagapo. We’re doing everything para maging safe ang Marawi,” said the Brawner.

(There was an encounter last week in Masho. There was an encounter Pagayawan. We have captured a member in Piagapo, we’re doing everything to make Marawi City safe.)

Residents are also advised to coordinate with authorities in case they notice anything suspicious in the area.

President Rodrigo Duterte said yesterday the military will no longer allow the entry of terrorist groups in Marawi City.

Abu Sayyaf bombs DPWH officials’ residences in Basilan

From the Manila Bulletin (Feb 2): Abu Sayyaf bombs DPWH officials’ residences in Basilan

Suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) detonated an Improvise Explosive Device (IED) outside the residence of the district engineer of the Department of Public Works and Highways-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (DPWH-ARMM) in Basilan late Thursday night.

Another IED was recovered by police and military authorities outside the perimeter fence of DPWH-ARMM Basilan assistant district engineer.

Police and military authorities here said the explosion occurred at around 9:50 p.m. Thursday at the perimeter fence of DPWH-ARMM District Engineer Soler Undug’s house located at Calle Bisaya in this city, while the Undug family was preparing to go to bed.

The authorities here said another IED, which failed to explode, was also found by the police and military authorities outside the residence of DPWH-ARMM Basilan assistant district engineer Salonga ‘Bong’ Lasatan, located in the village of Aguada, which is just a few meters away from the residence of Undug.

No one was hurt because of the twin explosions, but these caused mild panic among residents in the area.

“(The police and military) know these people who are involved in extortion and insurgency activities here. But still they cannot arrest them with the implementation of martial law in Mindanao,” some residents living near the blast site said.

A government official in this province, who declined to be named, challenge police and military authorities here to go after these rogue elements.

The police said a cellular phone was used as triggering device for the IEDs.

Undug said footage from a close circuit television (CCTV) camera installed outside his residence showed four persons planting the IED. He said that a copy of the footage is now with the police and military.

Undug said he has been receiving extortion text messages from the ASG, threatening him and his family with harm if they do not give in to their demand for protection money.

Alarmed local residents said the police and military authorities should strengthen their security and intelligence network in order to avoid a similar incident from happening again.

They called on the police officials and Task Force Basilan commander Col. Juvimax Uy to be more earnest in implementing martial law in Basilan Province.

Suspected CPP-NPA official arrested in Butuan City

From GMA News (Feb 3): Suspected CPP-NPA official arrested in Butuan City

The alleged finance officer of the Communist Party of the Philippines - New People's Army (CPP-NPA) Komisyon Mindanao was arrested on Thursday afternoon in Barangay Bading, Butuan City, the military said in a statement.

Joint security forces arrested alleged CPP-NPA Komisyon Mindanao (KOMMID) finance officer Leonida Guao on Thursday, February 2, 2018. PHOTO BY 402nd Infantry Brigade

Leonida Guao, who is also known for several aliases Leah, Ligaya, and Laya, was arrested during the joint operation of the 402nd Brigrade, 401st Brigade, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and PNP Regional Office Region 13 (PRO-13).

Joint security forces arrested alleged CPP-NPA Komisyon Mindanao (KOMMID) finance officer Leonida Guao in Butuan City on Thursday. PHOTO BY 402nd Infantry Brigade

In a statement issued by Civil-Military Operations Officer Capt. Al Anthony B. Pueblas, the AFP said Guao is "the finance officer of the CPP-NPA Komisyon Mindanao (KOMMID) and responsible for the synchronization of the collection and distribution of extortion money in Mindanao."

The joint security forces were armed with a warrant of arrest issued by the Regional Trial Court Branch 7, Bayugan City in Agusan del Sur.

Guao was charged for murder under criminal case number 5809.

"Guao, as head of finance of KOMMID, knows a lot of the extortion activities in Caraga as well as in the entire Mindanao. We hope that she will cooperate with the investigating team in identifying individuals, business establishments and organizations that are providing financial support to the CPP-NPA terrorists," said Brig. Gen. Franco Nemesio M. Gacal, 402nd Infantry Brigade commander.

"The successful Support to Law Enforcement Operation of the joint Army and PNP is the product of collaboration and partnership of the military and other law enforcement agencies. The government’s efforts against the CPP-NPA terrorists are relentless. We will not stop here. We will continue with our anti-terrorist and counter-terrorist operation to ensure the safety and security of the Caraganons," he added.

Surigao del Sur Lumads flee military activity anew

From the Philippine Star (Feb 2): Surigao del Sur Lumads flee military activity anew

Around 758 people from two towns in Surigao del Sur evacuated their homes, citing militarization in their area. Higala Friends of the Lumad in Caraga
 Lumad residents of Lianga and San Agustin towns in Surigao del Sur have been forced to seek shelter because of military activity in the area, a non-government organization said.
According to Friends of the Lumad in Caraga, 161 families — 758 people — from 12 communities of the two town had to leave their homes on January 29 and head to Barangay Diatogon in Lianga for safety.
"The past weeks had been terrifying for the Lumad as the military were in their farms since January 8 and have been directly harassing them and threatening their lives, making it difficult for them to tend their farms and earn a living," the group said in a press statement on Thursday.
The group claimed that there have been at least 10 cases of threats, harassment and intimidation, with soldiers interrogating residents on their way home or to their farms. Military activity led Lumads to leave their homes in late November.
"The military tagged them either as members or supporters of the New People’s Army. They took the names and pictures of the victims and threatened them that if anything would happen to the soldiers, they will go after them," FLC said.
Malahutayong Pakigbisog alang sa Sumusunod (Persevering Struggle for the Next Generation, Mapasu), one of the organizations that the military has linked to the communist NPA, said in a separate release that Lumads are "now afraid to go to our farms, to get what our traps caught and harvest wild abaca in the forest, because the military may be encamped in our farms."
Lumad communities in Lianga left their homes in 2015 after a paramilitary group killed the executive director and two members of a community-run alternative learning center. They were able to return in late 2016 but again left their homes in July and November 2017, citing military activity.
"We understand that the operations are meant to destroy our organization and our established alternative schools to facilitate the entry of mining in our ancestral lands," Mapasu said.
"We do not want to be dislocated again," it also said.
Investors for ancestral lands
Reports of the evacuation came as President Rodrigo Duterte met in Davao City with representatives of the indigenous peoples of Mindanao.
Aside from promising vocational training through the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, he said he would look for investors for IP-held ancestral domain.
"I will do it myself so there won't be any graft and corruption. I will work... I have Cabinet members here. Secretary [Jesus] Dureza is there... [Tesda Director General Guiling] Mamondiong," he said in Bisaya. "I'll choose the investor."
Among the areas he mentioned that he wants opened to investment are Mount Talomo — part of the Apo-Talomo mountain range in the Davao region — the Anda Valley Complex in Surigao del Sur and Mount Kitanglad in Bukidnon. 
"If you say you don't want to mine, then don't. No mines. If you say it will pollute your area, we'll block it," he also said. He said, though, that IPs who agree to have mines put up in their ancestral domains are free to do so.
"It's impossible not to mine. But if you say you don't want it, I won't coerce you. I will ban it," he said.
Under the law, IPs have the right to decide for themselves how their ancestral domain will be used and developed. Activities like mining require free and informed prior consent from the IP community. However, disputes on who should represent the community and give that consent has also led to conflict within IP groups.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines in December said that Lumad evacuations are part of a strategy of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
The president has declared the CPP and NPA as terrorist organizations, although a court decision is needed to make the declaration official under the Human Security Act of 2007.
"They will try to entice, they will make our indigenous peoples in the mountain go down to the city centers as evacuees and confront local governments and national governments and give demands, which they have been doing ever since," Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla, AFP spokesperson, said then.
Duterte said Thursday that the NPA is using Lumads against the government and each other. "And those leaders... tribal leaders that they can't recruit because they are loyal to the government, they murder," he said.
Datu Jerome Succor Aba, co-chairperson of Sandugo – Movement of Moro and Indigenous Peoples for Self-determination, said in a separate statement Friday, however, that "it is not the Lumad who are making trouble." He said: "It is your government and the corporations that are making trouble."
He said that despite constitutional protection for the ancestral land of national minorities, the government has been "salivating to sell it to big foreign investors, such as mining and plantations."

No bail for Rafael Baylosis; explosives raps filed

From the Philippine Star (Feb 3): No bail for Rafael Baylosis; explosives raps filed 

Baylosis was the first high-profile insurgent arrested after President Duterte scuttled the peace talks with the communist rebels late last year. STAR/Michael Varcas/File Photo
Government prosecutors yesterday recommended no bail for senior communist leader Rafael Baylosis and comrade Guillermo Roque after they were charged with illegal possession of explosives.

Quezon City Assistant Prosecutor Nilo PeƱaflor, however, recommended a bail bond of P120,000 each for illegal possession of firearms.

The charges came after Baylosis and Roque were arrested on Wednesday by government forces in Quezon City.

Both rebels reportedly yielded automatic pistols and a hand grenade hidden in a bag of rice when they were caught by lawmen.

Senior Supt. Wilson Asueta, chief of the National Capital Region office of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), said they intend to file additional charges of disobedience of a lawful order against Baylosis and Roque for refusing to undergo booking procedures.

Both rebels were taken into custody by the CIDG after they were arrested by a joint police and military team.

Baylosis was the first high-profile insurgent arrested after President Duterte scuttled the peace talks with the communist rebels late last year.

Duterte ordered security forces to rearrest the freed rebels following the collapse of the peace talks.

Baylosis was among 18 rebel leaders freed on bail in August 2016 and allowed to travel to the Netherlands as peace consultants of the National Democratic Front (NDF), the political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) negotiating peace with the Philippine government.

Among the freed rebels were the couple Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, the suspected top leaders of the NPA who are now in hiding.

Baylosis headed the CPP during the 1980s at the peak of the insurgency against the Marcos regime.

Police said the 69-year-old Baylosis was the “acting secretary” of the NPA.

Baylosis is facing murder charges after the military discovered the mass grave of 15 suspected government spies in 2006 who were killed in Southern Leyte province.

The NDF described the arrests as “illegal” and a “flagrant violation” of safety guarantees, saying Baylosis was a peace talks consultant.

Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Isagani Zarate said the government had violated the agreement and immunity guarantees by arresting an NDF consultant like Baylosis, who is involved in the peace talks.

Officials maintained Baylosis lost his immunity following the breakdown in the peace talks.

Militant groups also slammed the arrest, saying the charges against Baylosis were made up. Anakpawis party-list Rep. Ariel Casilao said they are seeking an investigation on Baylosis’ arrest.

Casilao is certain the evidence were planted since it defies logic for Baylosis to be carrying firearms and explosives in the middle of a city.

“That kind of style is no longer believable just to justify an illegal act,” Casilao said.

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa dismissed the allegations.

Dela Rosa said they have heard similar complaints before.

“When a drug pusher is arrested, the suspect will say we planted shabu. That’s just what it is,” Dela Rosa said.

Lumad group to resist 'intrusion' into ancestral lands

From the Philippine Star (Feb 2): Lumad group to resist 'intrusion' into ancestral lands

In this Monday, July 24, 2017, photo, young Indigenous People known as Lumads form the words "Save Lumad schools" as they join a march of thousands of protesters to coincide with the state of the nation address of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in Quezon city, northeast of Manila, Philippines. AP/Bullit Marquez
Lumads are not the root of trouble over their ancestral lands, a Lumad leader said Friday after President Rodrigo Duterte told representatives of indigenous peoples' communities that he will take charge of choosing investors to develop their land.

"It is not the Lumad who are making trouble," Datu Jerome Succor Aba, co-chairperson of Sandugo – Movement of Moro and Indigenous Peoples for Self-determination, said in a press statement. "It is your government and the corporations that are making trouble."
In his speech Thursday, Duterte warned the Lumads against being influenced by the communist New People's Army.
"They will make you fight [each other]," he said, adding the NPA will influence them against government militia. "And those leaders... tribal leaders that they can't recruit because they are loyal to the government, they will murder," he said.

Aside from promising vocational training through the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, he said he would look for investors for IP-held ancestral domain.

"I will do it myself so there won't be any graft and corruption. I will work... I have Cabinet members here. Secretary [Jesus] Dureza is there... [Tesda Director General Guiling] Mamondiong," he said in Bisaya. "I'll choose the investor."

Among the areas he mentioned that he wants opened to investment are Mount Talomo — part of the Apo-Talomo mountain range in the Davao region — the Anda Valley Complex in Surigao del Sur and Mount Kitanglad in Bukidnon.

"If you say you don't want to mine, then don't. No mines. If you say it will pollute your area, we'll block it," he also said. He said, though, that IPs who agree to have mines put up in their ancestral domains are free to do so.

"It's impossible not to mine. But if you say you don't want it, I won't coerce you. I will ban it," he said.

Under the law, IPs have the right to decide for themselves how their ancestral domain will be used and developed. Activities like mining, which some Lumad communities oppose, require free and informed prior consent from the IP community.

However, disputes on who should represent the community and give that consent has also led to conflict within IP groups.

Duterte admitted that the government has neglected IPs but said it has tried to help.

"Now, you have been given ancestral domain. The problem is, you aren't using it," he said Thursday.

But Aba disputed this.

"First, it is not the government who spilled blood for the IPs to have their ancestral lands. It is their forefathers' blood and the blood of the leaders that were sacrificed so that the government, or at least the Philippine Law, to recognize their right to the ancestral lands. Second, they have cultivated their lands for it to be productive to feed their communities and secure the future of the children by building their own schools, which President Duterte threatened to bomb," Aba said.

He said IPs "will continue to resist the intrusion of foreign investors and projects" into their ancestral lands.

In 2017, Duterte threatened to bomb Lumad schools, saying they were teaching children to rebel against he government, an allegation that the community-run schools denied. The president later walked back his threat and said only empty school buildings would be bombed.

Duterte likens NPA to ISIS

From MindaNews (Feb 2): Duterte likens NPA to ISIS

President Rodrigo R. Duterte likened the New People’s Army (NPA) to the global terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) after he accused the communist forces of beheading Mar Acevedo Bocales, a former communist rebel who became a CAFGU member, in Surigao del Sur last January 27.

President Duterte at the Indigenous Peoples Leaders’ Summit. Presidential Photo

During the “Panagtagbo Alang sa Kalinaw ug Kalambuan: An IP Leaders’ Summit” at the Naval Station Felix Apolinario on Thursday, Duterte slammed the NPA for harassing Lumad and tribal leaders who want to return to the government fold.

“Unsa ma’y ilang diperensya sa ISIS ug kidnapper? Mao na’y imong hustisya ipakita? (How are they different from ISIS or kidnapper? This is justice for you?),” the President said.

In a statement released on January 31, Ariel Montero, spokesperson of the NPA in Northeastern Mindanao, denied the allegation that they killed Bocales and pointed to a certain bandit group led by Emerson Cuarteron as the group responsible for his death.

He said Cuarteron’s group is member of the Magahat paramilitary group led by Calpit Egua, which harasses and extorts residents in gold mining communities of Barangays Castillo and Bolhoon in San Miguel, Surigao del Sur.

Montero accused Bocales of being associated with Calpit Egua.

He added that Cuarteron is facing criminal cases of kidnap for ransom, carnapping and illegal possession of firearms. He and a certain Hasmin Acebedo are fighting for the control of Barangay Castillo that he surmised was the reason behind the killing of Bocales, according to Montero.

“The group continues to exist by harassing and grabbing land from farmers, and forcibly collecting taxes from small miners and farmers,” he said.

The President told the 934 Lumads from different parts of Mindanao to resist the NPA if they are being recruited and asked them to keep their distance from the communist forces as he promised to provide them livelihood.

Duterte said he would give the Lumads P100 million in assistance for agricultural programs.

“Ug mu-recruit mo, ingna kuwan, Iglesia ko ni Duterte. Unya ang among relihiyong bag-o, Iglesia ni Duterte (If you are being recruited, tell them that you an Iglesia of Duterte. This is a new religion, Iglesia of Duterte),” he said in jest.

Duterte said the NPA only drives a wedge between Lumads by recruiting them into their guerilla forces.

“And 50 years ‘to niagi na. Nagsugod na ta’g another 50 years. Pangutan-on ta mo, sukad atong naa mo’y gamay na negosyo sa bukid, unsa ma’y gihatag sa NPA kaninyo? (And 50 years had already passed. We are starting another 50 years. I will ask you, since you started your business in the mountains, what did the NPA give you?),” he asked.

The President asked the Lumads if they would want 100 years of exploitation and brutality.

“Hindi!” the crowd responded.

The supposed fifth round of negotiations between government (GRP) and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace panels, scheduled November 25 to 27 last year in Oslo, Norway, was halted, following the issuance of Proclamation 360 of President Rodrigo R. Duterte last November 23.

Proclamation 360 ordered the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza and the government peace negotiators to stop all peace talks with the communist group for the latter’s alleged failure to show “sincerity and commitment in pursuing genuine and meaningful peace negotiations as it engaged on acts of violence and hostilities, endangering the lives and properties of innocent people.”

Duterte was prompted to issue the order following the NPA ambush on a police patrol vehicle in Bukidnon last November 9 that left two dead, including four-month-old Walysha Machorao, and six people injured.

Last December 5, the NPA and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) was designated as a terrorist organizations with Proclamation No. 374 signed by Duterte pursuant to Republic Act No. 10168, also known as the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2002.

Sayyafs terrorize Basilan province

From the Mindanao Examiner (Feb 2): Sayyafs terrorize Basilan province

Suspected Abu Sayyaf militants ambushed a police patrol and bombed the house of a senior government official in separate attacks in the troubled province of Basilan in southern Philippines, police said Friday.

Police said no one was hurt or killed in the ambush which occurred late Thursday in the village called Bulan-Bulan in Lantawan town, but the patrol car was hit by a hail of bullets. At least 7 policemen were in the patrol car when militants strafed the vehicle.

The policemen were returning to their base from an operation when the ambush occurred. The attack also coincided with a homemade bomb explosion at the house of Soler Undug, the district engineer of the Department of Public Works and Highways, in San Rafael village in Isabela City.

No was injured in the blast, but the powerful explosion destroyed a portion of Undug’s concrete fence, police said, adding, bomb experts have recovered parts of a cell phone, electrical wirings and traces of ammonium nitrate at the site.

The bombing occurred after militants also ambushed Undug’s employees and killing 2 of them and wounding four others in Lamitan City. Police said the Abu Sayyaf was extorting money from the DPWH.

Another explosive device was recovered and disarmed by the police outside the house of another provincial government engineer, Bong Salatan, in Isabela City, Basilan’s capital.

The Abu Sayyaf was suspected as behind the foiled bombing. But it was unclear how the militants managed to stage the attacks despite the huge presence of soldiers in the province. The military – which repeatedly trumpeted its campaign and surrender of dozens of militants in Basilan – did not release any information on the latest Abu Sayyaf atrocities.

Army, NGO, gov’t bring services to Albarka to curb terrorism in Basilan

From the Philippine Information Agency (Feb 1): Army, NGO, gov’t bring services to Albarka to curb terrorism in Basilan

ISABELA CITY, Basilan -- Terrorism and its ideology remain a threat and a concern in Basilan, especially in conflict-torn town of Al-barka in the eastern part of Basilan, south of the Philippines.

It is for this reason that the Philippine Army in Basilan brought some volunteers and organizations and conducted civic and medical services, in the hope that people could appreciate government efforts to curb terrorism in the area the soonest possible time.

In partnership with stakeholders, including Save the Children of War Foundation, the Department of Health and local health unit of Albarka, the Upsilon Sigma Phi Fraternity of the University of the Philippines in Diliman, and the Kayang-Kayang Ilo-ilo Mission International, the Philippine Army led the civic and medical mission on January 27, 2018.

LTC Achilles Dela Cruz said that part of the team were military units of the 4th Special Forces Battalion, 18th Infantry Battalion, and the AFP Reserve Unit composed mostly of professionals like nurses and doctors.

“This is part of our campaign to be closer to the people and let them feel the services of government and the army. We are not only for combat operations but we could also facilitate the delivery of services, both from government and non-government organizations to hard-to-reach areas in Basilan, especially when the issue of peace is concerned,” he said.

He said that one could notice that more and more people and groups outside Basilan are coming to give services and help to project a more positive and safe image for Basilan.

Mayor Darus S. Lajid was grateful for the services brought to Al-barka. He said that his none-IRA municipality is one of those with no doctors and nurses in the area, depriving people of much-needed medical care. He could only do as much with the subsidy provided by the regional government of ARMM and the support of the provincial government.

“Lumuluwang na ang Al-Barka ngayon sa mga civilians at sumisikip na sa mga masamang elemento dito…Pwede ko sabihin na from March 2017, pwede na namin i-declare ang Al-Barka na zero-ASG,” he quoted adding that the same effort is being done on the issue of illegal drugs.

Meanwhile, as part of the celebration of their centennial year, the Upsilon Sigma Phi fraternity, especially Batch’83 brought playground facilities for Barangay Cambug, such as seesaw, swing, monkey bar, and slide.

“The project was intended for children to give them the opportunity to grow normally as they should,” Romeo Liamzon of Upsilon said.

The Save the Children of War Foundation with founding director Dr. Arlyn Jawad brought toys and books for the children. Her team also conducted some games and storytelling activities.

Over 386 patients were given services by the medical team from the military and the Kayang-Kayang volunteers. Some 49 benefited from haircut, 51 for dental, and 1 for circumcision. About 50 young people were also gathered where Anthony Pangilinan gave an inspirational talk, hoping to encourage the youth to stay away from the lure of ASGs.

Historically, Magcawa barangay was previously controlled by the Abu Sayyafs where bloody encounters between the military and ASGs ensued. According to 4SFBn Philippine Army CMO 1Lt Ron JR T. Villarosa, the area has been the gateway in 2016 towards Tipo-Tipo town to capture the stronghold of ASG leader Isnilon Hapilon.

2ID new soldiers take center stage

From the Philippine Information Agency (Feb 1): 2ID new soldiers take center stage

CAMP GENERAL MATEO CAPINPIN, TANAY -- The 2nd Infantry (Jungle Fighter) Division, Philippine Army under the leadership of Major General Rhoderick Parayno AFP, Commander, 2ID produced another 356 new soldiers during the Graduation Ceremony of Candidate Soldiers (CS) Class 484-2017 at DTS view deck on 22 January 2018.

The new soldiers composed of 336 male and 20 female have successfully completed the five month rigid Candidate Soldier Course at the Division Training School, 2ID, PA.

Graduating from said course is no small thing, as new soldiers were properly nurtured with the basic knowledge and skills of soldiery in order to develop their character worthy to become members of the Armed Forces of the (AFP) .

Brigadier General Glorivine Dida, AFP, Assistant Division Commander, 2ID, stressed to the new soldiers that their enlistment in the AFP is now the start of their true service to the government.

“Just like in the oath you mentioned a while ago, that you will give your best effort in serving our people, even it may cost our lives,” he added.

BGen. Dida also thanked the parents, relatives and friends of the new soldiers for the support and congratulated the Division Training School personnel who were responsible for the training of these new raise of soldiers.

The activity culminated with a symbolic entrustment of firearms to the new privates with Hon. Wilfredo Robles, vice-mayor of Baras, Rizal, together with other LGUs. This ceremonial entrustment of firearms will instill nationalism and service-oriented attitude among soldiers who wilfully accepted the magnitude of the responsibility, duty and authority vested upon them in protecting the country and the Filipino people.

The 2ID deems it necessary to involve the local government officials in this ceremonial entrustment since the new soldiers will soon become partner in promoting peace and development in the locality.

53rd IB awards outstanding stakeholders

From the Philippine Information Agency (Feb 2): 53rd IB awards outstanding stakeholders

GUIPOS, Zamboanga del Sur -- The 53rd Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army gave due recognition to outstanding stakeholders for their significant contributions to peace, stability and development in the unit’s area of operations and in the successful implementation of the Army Transformation Roadmap.

Various stakeholders from local government unit, private and media sectors were honored by LtCol. Virgilio Hamos, Jr, commanding officer in a simple ceremony held at its headquarters, Camp Major David Sabido, this town.

Hamos thanked the stakeholders for joining him in the the activity saying that the simple gathering is a celebration of the professional and personal bond that they have shared for almost 2 years.

“I am deeply grateful to all for actively supporting the unit in providing services to the people and addressing the root cause of poverty in far-flung communities in our area of operations,” Hamos said.

“You have been behind our back at all times. Our accomplishments are also your accomplishments,” he added.

DXPR Station Manager Melchor U. Coronel thanked the unit for giving the local media due recognition for their partnership with the Philippine Army.

“This recognition inspires us to strengthen our relationship with the Philippine Army in promoting peace and sustainable development in the province. I hope that our partnership will continue and flourish even further,” Coronel said.

The army chief officially assumed as battalion commander of the unit on February 12, 2016 and will end his stint this month.

USAID vows to support open gov’t partnership

From the Philippine Information Agency (Feb 2): USAID vows to support open gov’t partnership

NEGROS OCCIDENTAL -- A top official from a lead United States (US) government agency bent on working to end global poverty and empower democratic resilience societies expressed her support to open government partnership during the recently concluded Open Government and Participatory Governance Regional Dialogue in Bacolod City.

Speaking before the crowd of local government chief executives, members of civil society organizations, academe and national government agencies, Deputy Director for Economic Development-United States Agency for International Development (USAID) – Philippines Jenna Diallo emphasized that open government is a social contract between the government and the people.

“It (Open Government) is not a privilege but a right of its citizens. A result to promote the government that works for its citizens is crucial in advancing toward our mutually shared goals of inclusive growth and effective governance,” Diallo added.

Director Diallo shared that open government partnership likewise replicates the global trends to greater openness, transparency, civic preservation and democratic governance.

The country’s commitment to open, responsive and engaging governance is demonstrated through various open government reforms such as the Freedom of Information (FOI), Citizen’s Complaints Hotline 8888, Office of Participatory Governance and cabinet cluster systems.

“We at USAID are humbled and delighted as your development partner as we bring together stakeholders to openly discuss policy measures that will have far bridging impact on the Philippines’ economy, and the lives of the Filipinos,” Diallo said.

The United States of America and the Philippines are founding members of the open government partnership from eight countries in 2011, which has grown rapidly to 75 member-countries in recent years.

Former rebels get livelihood aid

From the Philippine Information Agency (Feb 2): Former rebels get livelihood aid

Three former rebels from Lambunao, Iloilo on Wednesday each received livelihood assistance worth P65,000 through the government’s Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP).

Governor Arthur Defensor awarded the checks to beneficiaries during the quarterly meeting of the Provincial Peace and Order Council held at the Provincial Capitol.

Of the P65,000 amount, Director Teodora Sumagaysay of the Department of the Interior and Local Government-Iloilo said 15,000 is given as an immediate assistance to the beneficiary for mobilization expenses while his enrolment to the program is being processed and the remaining P50,000 is intended for the livelihood undertaking that he has identified.

Before the former rebels benefited from the program they participated in the profiling, capability building and values formation activities conducted by the local social welfare and development office.

They also secured a certificate from JAPIC (Joint Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police Intelligence Committee), that certified them that they are members of the New People’s Army (NPA) and eligible to be enrolled in the CLIP.

Aside from the livelihood assistance, the three former rebels will also get corresponding amount as token of appreciation for their surrendered firearms. The CLIP Technical Working Group in the province has yet to decide the amount to be given.

DILG was tasked to lead the implementation of CLIP which seeks to contribute toward achieving the goal of permanent and peaceful closure of all armed conflicts with non-state armed groups.

Qualified to avail of the program are regular members of NPA who surfaced 2011 onwards and have expressed the desire to abandon armed violence and become productive members of society including their spouses, partners, children (whether legitimate or illegitimate), parents or siblings and those who have not receive full assistance under the Social Integration Program (SIP) based on Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process list of former rebels that surfaced between 2007-2009.

Other government agencies involved in the implementation of CLIP in the province are Philippine Army, Philippine National Police, local government units.

Rebel returnees presented to SK guv, get financial aid

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 2): Rebel returnees presented to SK guv, get financial aid

ISULAN, Sultan Kudarat -- Military and police official presented on Thursday 32 former communist rebels to Sultan Kudarat Governor Pax Mangudadatu as part of the government’s reconciliation program, officials said.

Lt. Colonel Harold Cabunoc, chief of the Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion (IB), said eight of those presented to the governor recently yielded to his unit, while 19 and five others separately surrendered to the Sultan Kudarat police provincial office and Army’s 1st Mechanized Battalion, respectively.

The rebels all belonged to the New People’s Army (NPA) Guerilla Front 73 operating in the mountains of Sultan Kudarat.

At the provincial capitol, the 32 surrenderees received a check of P20,000 each as livelihood assistance under the Comprehensive Local Integration Program for rebel returnees.

Additional assistance are in place for the surrenderees in exchange for the firearms they surrendered to government, Cabunoc noted.

Chief Supt. Marcelo Morales, Police Regional Office-12 director, said the surrender of the latest batch of rebels was a huge blow to the organization.

“I hope other rebels will follow and come down too so they can live normal lives,” Morales said.

The military said if the surrenderees are qualified then they will be absorbed as para-military troops after undergoing military training.

Mangudadatu said he would work for the establishment of a school in far-flung villages of Sultan Kudarat where the rebels used to operate so their children could go to school.

Military recruiting local execs for reserve force

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 2): Military recruiting local execs for reserve force

A massive recruitment of elected and appointed local government officials in this province to become members of the Philippine Army Reserve Force is now ongoing.

The move is part of the military's aim to expand the list of Army reservists in this province considered as among the peaceful places in the Philippines and the safest province in Central Luzon.

Major Husain A. Esmael, director of Philippine Army’s 307th Community Defense Center, said that orientations are being conducted in the towns of Baler, Casiguran, Dinalungan, Dingalan and San Luis on how to be part of the Philippine Army’s Reserve Command.

Esmael said that he also asked local officials here to convince their constituents to enlist in the Reserve Force.

Likewise, he disclosed that Major Eleanor Marco Prado, new battalion commander of the Army’s 307th Community Defense Center, Aurora Ready Reserve Battalion, is planning to organize a company size of Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Teams (DRRMT) in every municipality in the province, in coordination with the Office of the Civil Defense and local chief executives.

Esmael noted that the ranks will be based on the length of service, educational attainments, eligibilities/board passers and accomplishments, among others.

He also explained that elected officials and presidential appointees who are reserve officers at the time of their election or appointment shall retain their existing rank but may apply for readjustment of rank.

An applicant must not be less than 21 years old or more than 64 years old at the time of appointment as reserve officer and must pass the physical examination conducted by an authorized hospital, a graduate of any baccalaureate degree and a board passer. Sixty-five years shall be considered the retirement age.

However, if qualified and fit for duty, a member of the retired reserve may be ordered to go on duty in times of local or national emergencies.

Baylosis no longer enjoys immunity from arrest: Palace

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 1): Baylosis no longer enjoys immunity from arrest: Palace

Malacanang on Thursday said National Democratic Front (NDF) consultant Rafael Baylosis can no longer use the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) to protest his arrest.

“JASIG is already worthless because there is no more peace talks,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a press conference in Baguio City.

Roque said even Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) could not be used for immunity from arrest.

“CARHRIHL is human rights and humanitarian law. If a person has warrant of arrest or if there is basis for warrantless arrest, he should be arrested because if not, it will be dereliction of duty,” Roque, a lawyer, explained.

Police arrested Baylosis and Guillermo Roque, a New People’s Army (NPA) member, on Wednesday but the NDF condemned the arrest and demanded for the immediate release of their companions.

“If they think that their arrest, other than on the basis of JASIG, was illegal, then they should file habeas corpus because there is no martial law here in Luzon,” Roque said.

Roque said it was the sworn duty of President Rodrigo Duterte to implement the laws.

“And since there is no peace talks, they are not exempt from full compliance with our penal laws,” he said

Roque said it was the communists’ fault why Duterte cancelled the peace talks “because they killed our soldiers.”

The arrest of Baylosis and Roque was the first since Duterte cancelled the peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) in November last year.

Baylosis is reportedly facing murder case over the Inopacan, Leyte massacre in 1985.

Nothing political with arrest of Baylosis, pal: PNP chief

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 1): Nothing political with arrest of Baylosis, pal: PNP chief

Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa said there is nothing political with the arrest of National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant Rafael Baylosis and companion Roque Guillermo Wednesday afternoon.

"Yung pagkaaresto niya (Baylosis), that was a product of intelligence operation and yun nakita sya doon may dalang baril, inaresto. Kinasuhan sya ng illegal possession of firearm, wala syang standing warrant of arrest ha according to the CIDG (Criminal Investigation and Detection Group)," Dela Rosa said.

On militant claims that the arrest of Baylosis and his companion is a persecution among leftist elements, Dela Rosa said that they are just fulfiling their mandate.

"Sa kanila yan, sabi nila panggigipit. Sa amin trabaho lang, walang personalan. Alangan naman pabayaan natin sila dyan pakalat kalat dyan na gumagawa ng problema sa Pilipinas. They are enemies of the state. Kami naman gusto namin mahuli sila. Ganun lang yun kasimple. Panggigipit? Para hindi na sila gipitin huminto na sila sa panggigipit sa taumbayan, yung pangbwisit sa taumbayan, pagsunog ng mga equipment, pang harass sa mga tao, ihinto nila yun," the PNP chief said.

An initial report from the PNP-CIDG-National Capital Region (NCR) revealed that Baylosis and Guillermo were arrested along Aurora Boulevard corner Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City around 3:45 p.m. Wednesday.

It was learned that aside from operatives of the CIDG-NCR, operatives of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP), Regional Intelligence Division-National Capital Region Police Office (RID-NCRPO), District Intelligence Division-Manila Police District (DID-MPD), Quezon City Police District (QCPD) and PNP Intelligence Group, took part in the joint operation.

Police said the operation was a result of an intelligence information received by the CIDG-NCR office last Jan. 30 that two armed and suspicious looking persons were sighted at the boundary of Manila and Quezon City prompting the unit to organize teams to conduct casing and surveillance at the said area.

The said persons were again reported to be in the same area on Wednesday, thus, a casing/surveillance was conducted wherein the suspects were tracked to the direction of Quezon City.

Upon reaching the corner of Katipunan Avenue and Aurora Boulevard, the duo sensed the presence of authorities and tried to escape but to no avail. Among the items seized from the two include two .45 pistols, 14 bullet of the same caliber, two magazines, assorted cellphones and documents.

Baylosis and Guillermo were appraised of their constitutional rights and are now under the custody of NCR-CIDG prior to their inquest proceedings before the Quezon City Prosecutor's Office.

Gov't to extend P100-M aid to Mindanao tribal communities

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 2): Gov't to extend P100-M aid to Mindanao tribal communities

President Rodrigo Duterte will release P100 million to tribal communities in Mindanao for livelihood program and agricultural development as well as to counter the influence of communist insurgents.

Speaking before the leaders of tribal communities in Davao City on Thursday, February 1, President Duterte vowed to facilitate the entry of investors and government assistance to tribal areas for them to develop and secure sustainable livelihood.

“Mag-release ako ng 100 million, temporary, pangtawid ninyo sa normalcy. ‘Yun ang gamitin ninyo,” he said. “You have to learn something, a skill to help your family,” he added.

He also underscored the importance of education to lift Lumad communities from dire poverty promising to provide free education to bright and talented young indigenous people.

The President also expressed his government’s willingness to fund the education of brilliant young tribe members by sending them to top universities in the country.

“I will send your children to any good school, or if you’re in Manila and you want to send them to San Beda, Ateneo, La Salle, you may enroll them there and the government will pay for the tuition fee,” he said in the vernacular.

To fend off the influence of communist insurgents in Lumad areas, Duterte announced that his government would recruit qualified tribe people to become members of the Armed Forces.

Tribe members could also opt to join government militia to fight communist rebels, he said.

President Duterte added that he would personally protect the ancestral domains in the country under his administration and choose investors to develop the areas.

President Duterte addressed around 1,100 indigenous peoples (IP) leaders during the summit held in Panacan, Davao City.

The IP Leaders’ Summit is a two-day event which aims to provide the IPs with an avenue to air their concerns with the national government agencies. It has drawn IP and Lumad leaders from Eastern Mindanao.

In a manifesto issued during the summit, the tribal leaders have thrown their support to the Duterte administration.

“We strongly express our continued support to President Rodrigo Duterte, whom we believe will help us shape and achieve our destiny as United Indigenous Peoples Mindanao in our respective ancestral domains,” they said.

“Affirming our customary laws, cultures and traditions passed by our ancestors deeply rooted in our indigenous cultural communities as the basis on our continued existence, struggle and fight for self-determination, we further express our commitment and support to your peace and development program as embodied in your 10-point agenda,” they added.

Attendees of the summit were customary leaders, elders and representatives of IPs from Mindanao comprising Regions 10, 11, 12 and 13. They stood to strengthen and push for self-determination in accordance with their customary laws, indigenous cultures and traditions.

The summit is the first meeting with tribal leaders under the Duterte government and also the first for President Duterte to meet Lumad leaders from Eastern Mindanao.

US allots P18.5-M to support 37 Mindanao projects

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 2): US allots P18.5-M to support 37 Mindanao projects

As part of its continuing response to the Marawi crisis, the United States Embassy in the Philippines on Thursday announced the launch of its PHP18.5 million #ForMindanao campaign supporting 37 projects throughout Mindanao led by Philippine alumni of US government-sponsored exchanges.

The projects will address educational enrichment, economic development, and the psycho-social effects of conflict, among other pressing needs in the region, and are expected to impact an estimated 13,500 people.

Since 1948, the US government has sponsored people-to-people exchanges that have built the leadership and professional capacities of more than 8,000 Filipinos from across the nation.

Upon their return, many of these exchange alumni collaborated with their fellow alumni and with the US Embassy to strengthen bilateral relations between the US and the Philippines.

According to the embassy, these youth's immediate response to the Marawi crisis through their engagement in the #ForMindanao campaign exemplifies the commitment of US exchange alumni to work together to advance the prosperity of all Filipinos.

The embassy noted that within hours of the outbreak of fighting in Marawi, individual exchange alumni and US exchange alumni chapters throughout the country contributed nearly PHP2.2 million in food, hygiene kits, and clothing that assisted more than 20,000 people impacted by the crisis.

One of its campaigns, the #MealsforMarawi, raised PHP85,000 to conduct Ramadan iftars that fed more than 3,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs), while the US alumni chapter in Davao, in partnership with the Rotary Club, delivered food, clothing, and basic medicine to nursing mothers in IDP camps.

At one point, their humanitarian efforts were complemented with psycho-social activities to support more than 7,500 IDPs affected by the crisis.

The Lanao del Sur Provincial Government awarded the US alumni chapter in Marawi City for the success of their #MaraWe art therapy program that helped 817 IDP children in the city.

The embassy said its #ForMindanao campaign builds upon these earlier programs by providing the alumni with ongoing opportunities to contribute to the recovery from the Marawi crisis and for the overall development of Mindanao.

In the next phase of the #ForMindanao campaign, public school and madrasa teachers, as well as women’s cooperative leaders who have participated in US government training programs, can apply for 15 PHP100,000 grants to help their schools and communities respond to local needs.

Additionally, the US Embassy will support four alumni-led projects of Php1 million each, addressing the root causes of conflict and violent extremism.

The grant competition is administered by Naawan HELPS, a US exchange alumni-led civil society organization based in northern Mindanao. From its end, the embassy said the alumni-led projects are part of the US government’s response to the Marawi crisis.

To date, the US government has pledged over PHP1 billion for the recovery and rehabilitation of Marawi and surrounding areas through the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

It also funded extensive counter-terrorism, law enforcement, development, health, and countering violent extremism programs across Mindanao.

AFP welcomes expansion of security ties with India

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 2): AFP welcomes expansion of security ties with India

President Rodrigo Duterte's efforts to expand further ties with India, especially those dealing with security, is a "welcome development" saying it provides the Philippine military a "wider and broader cooperation" with other Asian counterparts, an official of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said Friday.

"Remember that this is not only India we have been having military-to-military engagements, we have had Pakistan in the past, we have had Russia, China, Brunei, Australia of course the United States of America," AFP Spokesperson Col. Edgard Arevalo said.

He said these countries are interested in collaborating with the Philippines in the area of humanitarian assistance and disaster response and countering and preventing violent extremism.

The expansion of security ties with India is beneficial to the Philippines as the country's military can look at their training and equipment which can be acquired for AFP's use, Arevalo added.

He said a technical working group is now looking into possible Indian defense equipment which can be acquired for the AFP.

Last week, Duterte and India Prime Minister Narendra Modi met in New Delhi for the India-ASEAN Commemorative Summit.

During the visit, Duterte emphasized that both the Indian and ASEAN military must cooperate in combating modern-day terrorism and threat of piracy.

PH, Japanese ships to hold naval exercises Sunday

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 2): PH, Japanese ships to hold naval exercises Sunday

Philippine and Japanese ships will conduct a passing exercise (Passex) on Sunday, Philippine Navy (PN) Spokesperson Capt. Lued Lincuna said Friday during the welcoming ceremony for the Japanese destroyer, JS Amagiri (DD-154).

Prior to her arrival at the Manila South Harbor, JS Amagiri was provided the customary meeting procedure by BRP Rajah Humabon (FF-11) off Corregidor Island.

Lincuna said Passex involves communication exercises between PN units and anti-collision procedures.

These exercises are expected to start once the JS Amarigi leaves Pier 15 on Sunday and would last one hour.

JS Amagiri is an Asagiri-class destroyer specializing in anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare.

There are eight units of these ships in the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) capable of running at speeds of 30 knots.

The JS Amagiri is powered by combined gas and gas propulsion system and is armed with a 76mm Oto Melara automatic cannon and assorted missiles and torpedoes capable of neutralizing surface and sub-surface targets.

She is also accompanied by one SH-60J anti-submarine helicopter and commanded by Cmdr. Michiaki Mori.

During the arrival ceremonies, JMSDF Escort Division 2 commander, Capt. Koji Saito, who was aboard the Japanese ship, said it was a great honor for the JSMDF to welcome President Rodrigo Duterte during his visit to the JS Izumo (DDH-183) when the ship visited Subic Bay last year.

"As you all know, it was a great honor to welcome your Excellency President Rodrigo Duterte to our naval ship 'Izumo' at the port of Subic in last year as the head of state," he said.

Saito expressed hope that their visit will further strengthen the relations between the two countries.

The Japanese officer added that this visit is his fourth visit to Manila with the last one taking place in 2013.

"This is my fourth visit to Manila. Most recently, I came here during my study tour of the Japan Joint Staff College five years ago, that was in 2013," Saito added.

He added that the transfer of two TC-90 aircraft to the PN last year and another three this 2018 demonstrated the warm relationship between the two navies.

"The transfer of TC-90s is one of the remarkable proofs that shows our strong navy-to-navy relations, and I believe that those aircraft help your maritime patrol capabilities," Saito said.

One of the TC-90s conducted its first maritime patrol vision off Scarborough Shoal, Zambales last Wednesday.