Sunday, March 4, 2018

Philippine Air Force May Consider ex-JGSDF UH-1H Hueys as Short Term Solution for CUH Project Delays.

From MaxDefense Philippines (Mar 3): Philippine Air Force May Consider ex-JGSDF UH-1H Hueys as Short Term Solution for CUH Project Delays.

With the Philippine Air Force (PAF) not proceeding with the acquisition of more Bell 412EPIs combat utility helicopters from Bell Helicopter Textron after the problems encountered with the Canadian government, other options are being considered for short to long term solutions.

Based on information MaxDefense received this past few days, as a short term solution, the PAF is actually considering the possibility of acquiring surplus Bell-Fuji UH-1H Huey combat utility helicopters from the Japanese government, as the type has been retired from the Japan Ground Self Defense Forces (JGSDF) for a few years now. It would be worth noting that the Philippines and Japan has agreed to transfer their stock of UH-1H parts to the Philippine Air Force in a separate agreement, and it would be expected to be easy to possibly approve a request to transfer surplus working airframes as well.

 Take note that this is still a proposal and not an actual project.

A Bell-Fuji UH-1H Huey of the Japan Ground Self Defense Force. The JGSDF retired all its UH-1H and are currently stored in their bases.  Photo credited and taken from

According to a source from the PAF, these surplus Japanese Hueys are in even better condition that those actively used by the Philippine Air Force. And even if the PAF decides to only bring a few into service, it would definitely be a big boost for the fleet as the PAF's Hueys and other utility helicopters are dwindling in numbers despite the addition of 13 Bell-Dornier UH-1D Delta Hueys and Super Delta Huey helicopters delivered by Rice Aviation Services Inc (RASI) a few years ago (2 Deltas Huey helicopters crashed in separate incidents since then). It was mentioned years ago that the PAF needs at least 100 readily available CUHs, which means a fleet of at least 150 CUHs for the entire fleet.

An example of a Bell-Fuji UH-1H Huey.  Credits to Rico Swytech and Air-Britain Photographic Images Collection.

 It is also worth noting that these Bell-Fuji UH-1H Hueys are different from the Bell-Fuji UH-1J Hueys, The Bell-Fuji UH-1H are similar to the bread and butter Bell UH-1H Hueys used by the PAF, while the Bell Fuji UH-1J are similar to the PAF's own Super Hueys and Super Delta helicopters. The JGSDF has not yet retired their UH-1Js, which will only happen a few years from now once a replacement becomes available.

MaxDefense also received confirmation that at least 2 other options previously discussed in our earlier blog were requested to submit a formal offer to the Combat Utility Helicopter (CUH) Technical Working Group (TWG). One involve a brand-new offer from a larger helicopter company. Since we believe the formal offer is yet to be provided, MaxDefense will keep the information for now until it is clear and confirmed good for public consumption.

Until then, keep tab of this blog entry which we will also use should this plan become a reality.

PH, Australia hold joint urban warfare training

From the Manila Bulletin (Mar 5): PH, Australia hold joint urban warfare training

CAMP BANCASI, Butuan City – The Philippines-Australia Army to Army Exercise (PAAAE) culminated last week at the headquarters of the Army’s Southern Mindanao 10th Infantry (Agila) Division (10th ID) headquarters at Sergeant Demerin Grandstand in Camp General Manuel T. Yan Sr., Mawab, Compostela Valley (ComVal), said Capt. Jerry S. Lamosao, 10th ID Public Affairs Office (PAO) chief, in a statement sent to The Manila Bulletin on Monday.

(Armed Forces of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)

Aside from the skills in urban warfare training, participants completed their training on Urban Close Combat, Search and Breach Operation, Managing Combat Trauma, Communication Operation, Command and Control in Urban Operation, Sniping and Counter sniping and Joint Fires and Airspace Deconfliction.

Exactly 257 Filipino soldiers participated in the training. They came from different units of Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMincom) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)- Caraga region, Northern Mindanao region and Southern Mindanao region headed by EastMincom Assistant Chief of Staff for Education and Training (G8) Lt. Col. Jeffrey C. Cabansay.

The Australian Defense Force that facilitated the exercise was composed of 6 officers and 52 enlisted personnel. Lt. Col. Judd Finger heads the Joint Task Group 629 for the PAAAE, Lamosao said.

Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Amanda Gorely was the guest of honor and speaker during the culmination day on March 1. Gorely was joined by EastMincom chief Lt. Gen. Benjamin R. Madrigal Jr. and 10th ID commander Maj. Gen. Noel S. Clement.

The PAAAE is aimed at equipping forces under EastMincom units the necessary skills training on urban warfare, Lamosao added.

The training started on Feb. 15, 2018.

2 more Reds surrender

From the Manila Bulletin (Mar 3): 2 more Reds surrender

Columbio, Sultan Kudarat – Two alleged members of the Communist New People’s Army (NPA) surrendered Thursday to police authorities here.

Sultan Kudarat police director Raul Supiter said Betong Dalumatam, 45 and Guialodin Dalumatan, 41, who are members of the NPA Guerilla Front 72 operating in the provinces of Sultan Kudarat and South Cotabato, returned to the fold of the law following a series of negotiation made by village officials.

He said the rebel surrenderees yielded one M-14 automatic rifle, a Garand rifle and two .357 revolvers.

Chief Supt. Marcelo Morales, Police Regional Office-12 director, said the two NPA surrenderers opted to surrender due to brewing demoralization in the ranks of the NPA underground movement following the surrender of ranking rebel leaders in the past months.

AFP to lease military camps to create soldiers’ social fund

From the Manila Bulletin (Mar 4): AFP to lease military camps to create soldiers’ social fund

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) should start leasing Camp Aguinaldo and other military camps this year for the next “99 years,” President Duterte said recently.

The President said he wanted to hasten the lease of military camps so proceeds could augment funds needed to improve the social benefits of the soldiers.

Camp Aguinaldo (via Wikipedia / Manila Bulletin)

“Do not sell it. I will only allow you to lease it for 99 years, then renewable for another 99 years. That’s a lifetime. That’s billion. If you count it by years, trillion ‘yan [It will be a trillion],” he said during a recent police shootfest in Davao City.

“I want it implemented this year kaya pag-usapan na ninyo ‘yan. I’ve been hurrying up Aguinaldo. ‘Pag na-lease ‘yan, biro mo — kita mo ang Taguig. Tingnan mo ang putok ng Taguig [so begin your discussions. I’ve been hurrying up Aguinaldo. Once it is leased, just look at Taguig. Look at the economic boom of Taguig],” he added.

Duterte admitted that government funds are not sufficient to meet the social needs of uniformed personnel so he proposed the lease of some idle military camps.

He said Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has suggested the creation of a state firm similar to the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) that would manage the funds from the camp leases and ensure these resources would benefit the soldiers.

He recalled that when the military camp Fort Bonifacio was sold to investors, the proceeds were “mingled with the general fund of the government.”

“I’m not blaming anybody, tutal gobyerno man napunta (besides it went to the government],” he said.

“But this time…magtayuan kayo ng parang GSIS so that ‘yung ordinaryong sundalo, makapag-aral sa anak niya even beyond the four years [you should establish your own GSIS so that ordinary soldiers can send their children to school even beyond the four years],” he said.

He also made clear that the revenues from the lease of military camps would not be used to buy weapons and ammunition.

“‘Yan hindi ‘yan para bala pati baril, wala na — it’s just for social — a social fund — mga sakit, ‘yan (That will not be used for bullets and weapons. It’s just for social — a social fund for healthcare and others],” he said.

USS Bonhomme arrives in Manila for scheduled port visit

From the Manila Bulletin (Mar 4): USS Bonhomme arrives in Manila for scheduled port visit

The amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), with embarked 3d Marine Division Marines, today arrived in Manila for a scheduled port visit.

More than 2,500 sailors and marines aboard Bonhomme Richard are visiting Manila to enhance the strong ties between the Philippines and the United States and to experience the Philippine culture.

Philippines-US flags / Image courtesy of crossed-flag-pins/ Manila Bulletin

While in Manila, sailors and marines will have the opportunity to participate in Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) tours, and a community relations project where service members will get the chance to help those affected by the eruption of the Mayon Volcano in Albay province.

Mayon Volcano, which initially erupted in January, continues to be active and has displaced an estimated 90,000 people. Service members will pack food and other supplies for distribution to those affected by the volcano.

Bonhomme Richard’s port visit comes after the ship’s participation in the multinational exercise Cobra Gold in the Kingdom of Thailand.

As the 37th iteration of the exercise, Cobra Gold focused on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. Among participating nations were Indonesia, Japan, the Kingdom of Thailand, Malaysia, the Republic of Korea, Singapore and the United States.

Bonhomme Richard,, part of Amphibious Squadron 11, is operating in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region as part of a regularly scheduled patrol and provides a rapid-response capability in the event of a regional contingency or natural disaster.

Crew of US warship to provide assistance to Mayon evacuees

From Malaya Business Insight (Mar 5): Crew of US warship to provide assistance to Mayon evacuees

A US warship with 2,500 sailors and marines on board arrived in Manila yesterday for a port visit and is set to extend assistance to thousands affected by the eruption of Mayon volcano in Albay.

In a statement, the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard said it is visiting the Philippines
“to enhance the strong ties between the Philippines and the US and to experience the Philippine culture.”

The ship is coming from a multi-lateral military exercise, dubbed Cobra Gold, in Thailand. The exercise, focused on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, was participated in by forces from US, Indonesia, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, Korea, and Singapore.

“Following exercise Cobra Gold, we’ve continued our shipboard training and patrol, and now we have the opportunity to experience liberty in Manila,” said the ship’s commanding officer, Capt. Larry McCullen.

“I’m grateful for the chance to share the amazing culture of the Philippines with the crew during this port call,” said McCullen.

While in the Philippines, the US servicemen will be involved in morale, welfare, and recreation tours and community relations project benefitting those affected by the eruption of Mayon Volcano.

Army chief: Maute Group still recruiting new members

From Malaya Business Insight (Mar 5): Army chief: Maute Group still recruiting new members

ARMY chief Lt. Gen. Rolando Bautista said the Daesh-inspired Maute Group continues to recruit fighters, five months after the group’s defeat in Marawi City, in preparation for another siege.

Bautista said they have information that recruitment is not limited to Lanao del Sur where Marawi is a component city. He said recruitment is also ongoing in Basilan and Sulu, bailiwick areas of the Abu Sayyaf.

“Actually, that’s expected. In fact, after the Marawi liberation the common action of the supporters of the enemy neutralized is to recruit,” Bautista told a recent interview at the Army headquarters in Fort Bonifacio.

Maute members laid siege on Marawi in May 2017. The city was liberated by government forces five months later, leaving 974 Maute members, 168 soldiers and policemen and 47 civilians dead.

“We have received reports that the recruitment is not limited within Lanao del Sur. It also continues in the areas of Basilan and Sulu and even in the area of Palimbang (a town in Sultan Kudarat),” said Bautista.

The military initially revealed the Maute Group’s recruitment efforts weeks after the liberation of Marawi City.

Asked why many soldiers are still deployed in Marawi City five months after the siege, Bautista said: “There is threat,” referring to potential attacks by the Maute Group.

“The recruitment continues, meaning when there is recruitment there is still a possibility that they will lay siege or occupy another city, not particularly Marawi City. That is a big possibility,” said Bautista.

Bautista said the rehabilitation of Marawi City is among the issues being used by the Maute Group in the recruitment of new members.

Last December, President Duterte cited several reasons in requesting Congress to extend martial law in Mindanao for one year or until the end of this year, including the recruitment of Maute members.

Duterte declared martial law shortly after the Marawi siege. The initial two-month martial law was first extended by Congress in July, until the end of December last year.

“The rehabilitation of Marawi City is continuous because part of their recruitment is how they see the progress of the rehabilitation of Marawi, that’s why our President is doing all he can,” said Bautista.

“He (Duterte) has mobilized all government agencies; he directed local government units to fastrack the rehabilitation of Marawi City and our troops are there to ensure (the security) of the residents,” said Bautista.

Bautista said soldiers would not leave the residents even after the liberation of Marawi because “one of their worries is what will happen to them if they will be abandoned (by soldiers).

Army battalion cleared of alleged torture of NPA rebs

From Malaya Business Insight (Mar 5): Army battalion cleared of alleged torture of NPA rebs

AN Army battalion has been cleared of alleged torture and attempted burning of two alleged communist New People’s Army rebels in Compostela Valley province from November 28 to December 6 last year.

Lt. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal, commander of the military’s Eastern Mindanao Command, said the Army’s 1001st Brigade established that no such incident took place.

Assisted by the human rights group Karapatan, Janry Mensis filed charges against the military before the Commission on Human Rights last Friday, more than three months after their supposed ordeal with the Army’s 71st Infantry Battalion.

Karapatan said Mensis and a companion, who it said are mere farmers, were initially accosted by the police on November 28 in Tagum City after being accused as thieves. It said policemen found no evidence against the two but were turned over to the 71st IB on the same day because they were supposedly NPA rebels.

The two were reportedly brought to the 71st IB headquarters where they were continuously beaten and not properly fed. On December 6, the two were taken to a mountain and thrown into a pit where soldiers allegedly tried to burn them.

Karapatan said the two pretended to be dead and escaped while the soldiers were withdrawing. Mensis, who suffered third degree burns, sought assistance from Karapatan officials six days after he and his companion escaped.

 “I had it investigated but the 1001st Brigade said there was no such incident. That report (allegations of Karapatan and Mensis) was fabricated,” said Madrigal.

The 1001st Brigade is led by Col. Erwin Neri, commander of the 1001st Brigade.

Madrigal added the military is open to investigation that would be conducted by other agencies.

4 more Abu Sayyaf members surrender

From Malaya Business Insight (Mar 5): 4 more Abu Sayyaf members surrender

FOUR members of the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf surrendered to the Armed Forces on Saturday morning in Sulu, bringing to 28 the number of Abu Sayyaf men who have yielded to the military this year.

Capt. Jo-ann Petinglay, spokesperson of the AFP’s Western Mindanao Command, said the four – Raddoh Jamah, Saddam Hussien Hayudani , Okim Jikiri and Abdulsali Abda Abdulkarim – yielded because they wanted to start a new life.

Petinglay said the four surrendered to officials of the elite 2nd Special Forces Battalion at the unit’s headquarters in Barangay Samak in Talipao town at around 8:30 a.m. bringing with them three rifles and a handgun.

“They wanted to have a chance of a new life, free from fear of getting caught by the intensifying military offensives (against the Abu Sayyaf),” Petinglay said.

Petinglay said the four were also motivated by government programs, including livelihood, provided to Abu Sayyaf men who had surrendered.

Petinglay said the surrender of the four raised to 28 Abu Sayyaf men who gave up to the military this year – 16 in Sulu, 10 in Basilan and two in Tawi-Tawi.

The four are set to be turned over to the Joint Task Force Sulu in Jolo town for medical examination and custodial debriefing, said Petinglay.

JTF Sulu commander Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said the four surrendered “after they saw that the government was serious in giving them a second chance to live a peaceful life.”

The military is aiming to end the Abu Sayyaf before the end of the year. The group is composed of around 400 members, mostly in Sulu where the Abu Sayyaf is holding 10 foreign and Filipino kidnap victims.

“Our focus is to rescue the remaining kidnap victims. In so doing, some of them opted to surrender because they are already tired of running, and they’re lacking support,” said Sobejana.

Three alleged members of NPA’s Sparu unit nabbed

From the Mindanao Times (Mar 5): Three alleged members of NPA’s Sparu unit nabbed

THREE alleged members of the New People’s Army liquidation squad were arrested by the 71st Infantry Battalion in Barangay New Balamban, Tagum City on Feb. 26.

The belated report from the 71st Infantry Brigade claimed that the members of the Special Partisan Unit (SPARU) unit also yielded illegal drugs and firearms when arrested. The suspects were identified as Decxandre L. Balingcos, Ellen Grace L. Balingcos, and Welmer U. Muring.

 1Lt. Jhocelle Asis, the civil-military operations (CMO) officer of the 71st IB, told TIMES that they received a tip from a concerned citizen reporting of armed men on board a motorcycle without plate number heading toward Nabunturan, Compostela Valley.

 The soldiers were immediately deployed to verify the report on the orders of Lt. Col. Esteveyn Ducusin, commanding officer of 71st IB.

 Taken from them were a .45 caliber pistol, 9mm caliber pistol, and a small sachet containing substance believed to be shabu.

The three were supposed to be members of the Sparu under Guerilla Front 2 and Pulang Bagani Command 3, Sub-Regional Committee 2, Southern Mindanao Regional Command.

“We are very thankful on the continuous support of the masses in sharing real-time information about the possible violence perpetrated by the NPA or any lawless armed groups,” Ducusin said.

“Drugs on their possession prove that NPA terrorists are now engaging illegal drug activities for money,” he said.

“They are frustrated enough where to get financial support for their terroristic activities,” the commander.

Alleged Maute subleader, member arrested in Manila

From Rappler (Mar 4): Alleged Maute subleader, member arrested in Manila

Suspected Maute Group subleader Nasser Lomondot and member Rizasalam Lomondot are charged with illegal possession of firearms and ammunition as well as explosives

An alleged subleader and a member of the Maute Group have been arrested in Tondo, Manila, said the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) on Sunday, March 4.

In a statement, the NCRPO said suspected Maute Group subleader Nasser Lomondot, alias Muhamad Lomondot, and member Rizasalam Lomondot were nabbed in an operation on Saturday, March 3.

According to the NCRPO, Nasser Lomondot was "one of the key planners in the attack" on Marantao, Lanao del Sur during the
Marawi siege last year.

"He also took part in the killings of innocent Christians [and] committed violence against women and children hostages," police said.
(READ: The life of a Maute hostage in Marawi)

One hand grenade and one caliber .45 pistol were recovered from the two suspected terrorists.

They were charged with illegal possession of firearms and ammunition as well as explosives.

The NCRPO, Manila Police District (MPD), Philippine National Police (PNP) Intelligence Group, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), and the 103rd Brigade of the Philippine Army conducted the operation that led to the arrests.

The Islamic State (ISIS)-inspired Maute Group had launched a 5-month assault on Marawi City last year, triggering fierce clashes with government forces. Terror leaders Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute were killed in mid-October, and days after their deaths, combat operations were declared over.

More than a thousand people were killed in the Marawi siege, most of them terrorists. On the government side, 165 soldiers and cops died.

PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa recently warned that there could be a "Marawi part 2" in major Mindanao cities, saying that people in the region are most vulnerable to recruitment by extremist groups.

But Dela Rosa called for calm, reiterating that authorities are exhausting all means to prevent terrorism.

Maguindanao town yields loose firearms

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 4): Maguindanao town yields loose firearms

More loose firearms were surrendered in the provinces of Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur due to the continuous support of local government executives to the government’s “Balik Baril” program.

On Saturday, Mayor Reshal Ampatuan of Datu Unsay, Maguindanao, turned over 15 assorted firearms from residents of her town to the Philippine Army’s 601st Infantry Brigade based in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao.

The loose firearms were owned by civilians and residents of the villages of Meta, Maitumaig, Pananget, Macalag, Tuntungan, and Bulayan, all of Datu Unsay.

Brig. Gen. Diosdado Carreon, 601st Infantry Brigade commander, lauded Ampatuan for helping the military collect unlicensed guns from unauthorized civilians.

Surrendered were one M-16 A1 rifle, three cal. 30 M1 Garand rifles, four homemade 12-gauge shotgun, two homemade shotgun (converted), two caliber 45 pistols, one 9mm-caliber pistol and two Uzi submachine gun.

Carreon said the continuous collaboration of government forces with the local chief executives and barangay officials in the implementation of martial law and the campaign against loose firearms has produced positive results.

Last Feb. 27, residents of the municipalities of Buldon, Parang, Matanog and Barira, all of Maguindanao, also surrendered a total of 88 loose firearms.

A week earlier, residents of five adjoining towns of Kapatagan, Malabang, Balabagan, Marugong and Picong in Lanao del Sur also surrendered to the Army’s 6th Infantry Battalion based in Malabang in compliance to the Army’s call for disarmament of civilians.

Military and police officials have placed the number of loose firearms to about 15,000, including those in the hands of Moro rebels and terrorist groups.

“As part of the implementation of Martial Law in Mindanao, the Army is determined to collect loose firearms through peaceful means but would use military resources if necessary against those who possess unlicensed guns,” Maj. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, Army’s 6th Infantry Division commander, said in a statement.

Army turns over rubber seedlings to IPs in Maguindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 4): Army turns over rubber seedlings to IPs in Maguindanao


The military’s 1st Mechanized Infantry Battalion (MIB) on Saturday distributed over 800 rubber seedlings to Indigenous Peoples (IPs) in the upland village of Ampatuan in a bid to help natives have alternate sources of income.

2Lt. Giftsy Labaniego said the seedlings were distributed to IPS in far-flung Barangay Tomicor here.

“It was part of our community support program as we continue to win the hearts of our IPs,” Labaniego said after he and his staff handed over the seedlings to Editha Panes, IPs mandatory representative of Barangay Tomicor.

The Maguindanao provincial agriculture office provided the seedlings intended for all IP communities that have limited or no agricultural support at all.

Maguindanao Governor Esmael Toto Manguadatu has specific programs for the IPs who he described as protectors of the forest as their ancestral domain.

Labaniego also said that the outreach program is one way of bringing the IPs away from communist movement recruitment in the hinterlands.

Panes lauded the efforts of the military for the delivery of the seedlings. She assured the soldiers that the IPs would take care of the agricultural assistance.

Rubber is a rising industry in Maguindanao, which has a vast track of uninhabited forest lands suitable for rubber and heat resistant crops.

“We have just planted the seed of peace in this community,” Labaniego said as his team left the mountain village.

Army slams Karapatan report on ‘tortured’ NPAs

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 4): Army slams Karapatan report on ‘tortured’ NPAs

The Philippine Army’s 71st Infantry battalion has debunked the allegation of a leftist human rights group that two individuals who were suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) were tortured and burned.

Lt. Col. Esteveyn Ducusin, commander of the Army’s 71st battalion, said no trooper would do such heinous acts as these are contrary to the mandate of the military to serve and protect the people, adding that state troops strictly adhere to the Anti-Torture Law of 2009.

"The issue can be considered as black propaganda to deviate people and to further threaten NPA members who want to go back to the folds of the law because it creates an impression that surrenderers are mistreated and abused," Ducusin said.

In a press statement released by Karapatan on March 2, 2018, the leftist group claimed that January Mensis, 22 and alias “Jerry,” 17, were reportedly abducted on Nov. 28, 2017 and were “falsely accused” as thieves by the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Tagum City.

After being cleared, Karapatan claimed that the two were turned over to the 71st IB, brought to the camp and were tortured.

On Dec. 6, 2017, the two were allegedly brought to a mountainous area in Compostela Valley and were thrown to a pit where soldiers tried to burn them alive.

"The 71st IB troopers are professional and disciplined, committed to respect human rights and adhere in International Humanitarian Law and it would be a privilege for us to be investigated to expose of the truth,” Ducusin said.

He said the 71st IB welcomes any legitimate investigation to prove its innocence on the issue.

Ducusin said Karapatan wanted to make an impression that communist rebels who surrender would be tortured, citing the increasing number of NPA members and supporters who have surrendered to the government.

The military reported that as of March this year, a total of 418 NPA members and mass supporters voluntarily surrendered to the said battalion.

The former rebels were bound to attend the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority’s (TESDA) livelihood training programs, which are projects aimed at helping them reintegrate into society.

On March 2, 2018, there were 15 personalities who were apprehended within the area and were sent to jail, including bomb makers, Special Partisan Unit members, and some alleged drug personalities.

"This has gained the support and respect from the civilian community. They are able to build a school building in Maragusan, the water system in Maco, and distributed school supplies, bags and chairs within Compostela Valley and Davao del Norte," the commander said.

"All of these accomplishments have paved way for anti-government groups to create gorge destroying the mission of Philippine Army especially 71st IB who are performing their duties and responsibilities in attaining peace and order for the progress of the community," Ducusin said.

AFP vows zero tolerance over violence against female soldiers

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 4): AFP vows zero tolerance over violence against female soldiers

As the country celebrates National Women's Month, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said it would do everything to ensure that women serving the military will be not be subjected to harassment and violence during their training and service.

AFP public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Emmanuel Garcia said the military would intensify its gender and development (GAD) programs to prevent violence and discrimination among its ranks.

"The AFP continuously intensifies its efforts to develop plans, policies, and mechanisms in addressing identified gender discrimination and inequalities within the organization. This is part of the military’s on-going campaign towards women empowerment and equal rights for its members," he said.

The AFP has lined up gender and development programs including Gender Sensitivity Training, Seminar-Workshops on Gender Analysis; GAD Executive Briefing to Senior Military Officials/Top Level Management; and lectures on GAD-related laws and mandates.

Garcia said the AFP also actively participates in national and international mandated GAD-related advocacies such as the Campaign to End Violence against Women.

The military official said programs on GAD have been ongoing since the military started accepting women in its ranks.

He added that same privileges and opportunities in terms of pay, remunerations, benefits and awards are being accorded to men and women in the military.

Garcia stressed that equal considerations in terms of the area or field of assignment are given to both men and women in the AFP.

The military also provides decent and separate billeting facilities and quartering for men and women regardless of location or type of assignment.

Garcia added that the AFP salutes all its female soldiers and civilian employees for their bravery and hard work in the organization.

"The AFP is dedicated to enabling equal rights and opportunities in all aspects of its service, whether these are combat to noncombat operations. We assure the public that efforts will continue to pave the way for more programs that will further expand the military’s commitment to women empowerment and gender equality," he added.

Air Force earmarks P15-M fund for FA-50PH jet spare parts

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 4): Air Force earmarks P15-M fund for FA-50PH jet spare parts

The Philippine Air Force (PAF), through its Bids and Awards Committee, is allocating the sum of PHP15,289,000 for the acquisition of spares and components needed for the maintenance of its Mach 1.5 capable FA-50PH "Fighting Eagle" jet aircraft.

The submission and opening of bids is scheduled on March 13, 9 a.m. at the PAF Procurement Center Conference Room, Villamor Air Base, Pasay City.

"All particulars relative to Eligibility Statement and Screening, Bid Security, Performance Security, Pre-Bidding Conference/s, Evaluation of Bids, Post-Qualification and Award of Contract shall be governed by the pertinent provisions of RA 9184 and its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR)," PAF BAC chair Brig. Gen. Erickson Gloria said in a post at the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System website.

The Mach 1.5 capable FA-50PHs were blooded or used in combat during the five-month battle to retake Marawi City from the clutches of the ISIS-inspired Maute group.

The PAF has around 12 units of these jet aircraft which was acquired for around PHP18.9 billion from Korea Aerospace Industries.

Deliveries commenced on December 2015 and were completed on May 2017.

Close to 100 Abu Sayyaf bandits killed in last 12 months

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 4): Close to 100 Abu Sayyaf bandits killed in last 12 months

The government’s war on terror continued to gain ground with 97 Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) members killed, including 14 ranking leaders of the group during the past 12 months from Feb. 21, 2017 to Feb. 28, 2018, a military official said Sunday.

Brig. Gen. Cirilito E. Sobejana, commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Joint Task Force Sulu (JTFS), said at least 57 were also wounded, 79 captured and 66 surrendered during the same period.

A total of 299 bandits were neutralized during the period, cutting down the remaining Abu Sayyaf fighters to about 488, but still, a force to reckon with, Sobejana pointed out.

On the government side, he said nine soldiers were killed and 109 others wounded in 39 fierce gun battles with the terror group in various parts of Sulu.

Sobejana said his troops also captured 251 firearms of various calibers during the 12-month period, depleting the firepower of the Abu Sayyaf.

Among the firearms recovered were three 81mm mortars, one 160mm mortar, one 90RR, two .50 caliber machine guns, one 30 caliber machinegun, one M60 machinegun, 220 high-powered assault rifles, 22 light firearms, and thousands of rounds of bullets.

Since assuming as JTFS commander in February last year, Sobejana, a recipient of the Medal of Valor, the highest military award for gallantry in combat, has ordered his troops to sustain the military offensive to “destroy the ASG the soonest possible time” as he vowed there will be no let-up in the war on terror in Sulu, his area of responsibility.

The Abu Sayyaf which has link with Islamic terror groups in the Middle East has been engaged in terrorist activities, including kidnapping-for-ransom for over two decades.

Their target for kidnapping is both Filipinos and foreigners.

Sobejana said that from Feb. 21, 1017 to Feb. 27, 2018, the Abu Sayyaf had snatched 45 individuals.

Of that number, the terror group beheaded four of their kidnap victims, another four had escaped, 16 had been released, and 11 had been rescued, but 10 are still in the Abu Sayyaf custody, Sobejana said.

Sobejana said those rescued included five Malaysians, four Filipinos, and two Indonesians.

The Abu Sayyaf has also been involved in bombings, assassinations and extortion activities in the southern Philippines.

For their notorious activities, the Abu Sayyaf has been tagged as a terrorist group by the United Nations, Indonesia, Malaysia, Canada, Australia, Japan, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, among others.

DFA, DND join hands to combat cyber security threats

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 4): DFA, DND join hands to combat cyber security threats

Following a workshop dealing with overlay networks utilized for crimes and terrorism, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Friday said it is planning to develop an interagency action plan with the Department of National Defense (DND) against “Dark Net,” to further prevent the spread of violent extremism in the Philippines.

The two state agencies conducted a workshop entitled "Dealing with the DarkNet: Measures to Prevent Violent Extremism" last Feb. 28, in a bid to develop a culture of security among internet users.

Dark Net is a term often used to describe part of the cyberspace that is beyond reach of law enforcement.

Senior Special Assistant for Civilian Security and Consular Concerns Alex Lamadrid, on behalf of Permanent Delegate of the Philippines to UNESCO Ma. Theresa Lazaro, said the idea of the workshop sprouted when Philippine national and local authorities were confronted with the situation in Marawi City.

He said through the workshop, the country’s military and other law enforcement units would be able to fully grasp the realities of the Dark Net, with the objective of developing comprehensive policy and program responses and interventions to address threats to national security, peace and development.

For his part, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, in a statement, said no single nation could fight cyber crimes alone.

"As cyber crimes increase, we must show our commitment to come up with more efficient and effective security measures to address this grave threat to our collective security,” he has said in a statement.

According to the World Policy Institute, criminals can make “introductions” to each other, acquire experts for financial and commercial transactions involved, and begin the process of laundering the proceeds in the Dark Net with their anonymity intact.

As per the DFA, the development of an interagency action plan is now envisioned to address this and prevent violent extremism from spreading in the Philippines.

The workshop is in consonance with the meeting between Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay recently in Paris, France where the cooperation on prevention of violent extremism (PVE) through education, media literacy and protection of cultural heritage was discussed.

The Philippines is an active member of the Friends of PVE in UNESCO and the UNESCO Executive Board.

BCDA raises record-high P8-B for military modernization

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 4): BCDA raises record-high P8-B for military modernization

The state-owned Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) has contributed PHP8 billion for the modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) during the first two years of the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.

The amount represents 20 percent of the total PHP40 billion received by the men and women in uniform from BCDA since the state-run agency was created in 1992.

“That is very, very significant. Two out of the 25 years of BCDA, and under the term of President Duterte, 20 percent of the total PHP40 billion was remitted to AFP,” BCDA President and Chief Executive Officer Vivencio Dizon said Thursday.

In a forum with public information officers of the AFP on Thursday, Dizon expressed high hopes that the trend “would keep on going up”.

“That just shows everyone how important the AFP is to this administration. We want this to just keep on growing and growing,” he said.

Dizon stressed BCDA’s mandate to transform military bases into premier centers of economic growth.

“BCDA is here, it exists to help strengthen our Armed Forces while we build great cities. That’s what really BCDA is all about,” he said.

The event held Thursday was also attended by Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans and Programs Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr. and Department of National Defense (DND) spokesperson Director Arsenio Andolong.

For his part, AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Bienvenido Datuin Jr. recognized BCDA as an “active partner” not only in AFP modernization but also on infrastructure development.

“I believe that the support will be increasing and forthcoming from the BCDA. Again, we welcome such effort and initiative from the BCDA,” he said.

Padilla, for his part, said that the government’s support for the AFP boosts the morale of the troops, especially after the Marawi siege.

“We felt the strong backing of the public, and of course, the commander-in-chief himself for him to make a point to come to Marawi,” Padilla said.

Duterte has given soldiers the assurance that the further modernization of the military will be one of his administration’s top priorities.

Marawi’s rebuilding yet to start, despite warning that defeating extremism depends on it

From Sight Magazine (Mar 4): Marawi’s rebuilding yet to start, despite warning that defeating extremism depends on it

Four months after the battle ended over the southern Philippines city of Marawi, Muslim leaders have called on people to stop posting divisive information on social media.

Rumours were spread via social media in recent weeks, saying that the Catholic cathedral, which was severely damaged during the conflict last year, would be rebuilt first.

Approximately 350,000 Marawi residents who fled the conflict in their city last year still remain in temporary shelters. PICTURE: World Watch Monitor.

But Bishop Edwin de la Pena of Marawi, a city with a Muslim majority, has said the focus of rebuilding should be on the recovery of communities first, and not the church building. The Catholic Church has rolled out an interfaith programme in which Muslim and Christians volunteer to come alongside those most affected by the violence.

Fighting in Marawi broke out in May last year after the Islamic State-inspired Maute group tried to take over the city to create an Islamic state. The conflict lasted five months, killing 1,100 people – mostly militants – and causing more than 400,000 to flee their homes, while destroying 40 per cent of the city.

According to Catholic news agency UCAN, a local Muslim civil-rights activist, Samira Gutoc-Tomawis, encouraged her compatriots to sow unity between Muslims and Christians, not division.

A local pastor, who helps out in shelters where 350,000 residents still remain months after their houses were destroyed, told World Watch Monitor another rumour going round suggested the local mayor had said Christians were only engaging in relief work to “Christianise the Maranaos”.

The pastor, who did not wish to be named, said he doubted the mayor was behind the rumour, but that he believed others felt that way. “This means the work is being stopped; someone really wants to get rid of the Christians in Marawi,” he said.

But Ms Gutoc-Tomawis, who is also a former member of parliament in the autonomous Muslim region of Mindanao, highlighted stories of Muslim residents taking care of Christians during the siege and thanked Christians “for not abandoning us even during recent storms that hit Mindanao”.

World Watch Monitor reported how when Christians were targeted by the militants, Muslims helped their fellow residents by reportedly giving them Muslim headscarves, hiding them in their homes and teaching them Muslim prayers.

And as the army slowly took control of the city, Christian police and soldiers helped clean the site of the Grand Mosque in the city centre and then secured its surroundings during the first prayer held there since the start of the conflict.

According to the government it will cost about $US1 billion to rebuild Marawi, with rebuilding expected to begin in April, according to UCAN.

Thomas Muller, analyst at Christian charity Open Doors’ World Watch Research unit, told World Watch Monitor following the siege that the future of Islamic extremism in the area “may much depend on how, and how fast, Marawi can be rebuilt and its citizens can return”.

“The killing of militant leaders does not destroy the fighters behind them. Other leaders will emerge and the Islamic militants will simply re-group,” he said.

A senior officer of the Philippine Armed Forces warned earlier this week that the militants were preparing for another attempt to establish a Southeast Asian “caliphate” in the region. “The guerrillas who escaped during the first days of the military reconquer Marawi, are engaged in recruiting new soldiers, thanks to the large amounts of money, guns and jewels stolen from the city’s banks and private homes,” Colonel Romeo Brawner said, according to AsiaNews.

“Fighting against widespread poverty and Muslim armed uprisings seeking independence or self-government, Mindanao must improve the poor supervision of Islamic schools or madrasas, where many young armed men are recruited,” he added.

Mindanao is home to a number of violent extremist groups – including Maute, Abu Sayyaf and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters – which for the last four decades have sought the island’s independence, hoping to create an independent Islamic state.

While the government in July last year was presented with a draft bill that would govern the creation of a new autonomous Muslim region in the southern Philippines, the country’s largest Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which signed a peace deal with the government in 2014, warned that the failure to pass the law on self-determination would “fuel Islamic extremism”.

The group’s vice chairman, Ghazali Jaafar, said the Marawi siege happened as a result of frustration with the peace process.

IS has been making inroads in the Philippines since the Abu Sayyaf group declared allegiance in 2015, and since then IS has “recognised” a number of other Islamist groups in the Philippines.

As IS has lost territory in Iraq and Syria, it has started to assert its presence elsewhere through either isolated “lone-wolf” attacks or more co-ordinated actions by organisations that affiliate themselves with the group. In a 20-minute video issued last year, the group actively encouraged supporters to “go to the Philippines”.

Possible remnants of Maute, terrorist groups still recruiting — Bautista

From the Manila Bulletin (Mar 4): Possible remnants of Maute, terrorist groups still recruiting — Bautista

Philippine Army chief Lt. Gen. Rolando Bautista has confirmed that possible remnants and supporters of the Maute Group and other local terrorist groups continuously recruit for new members to launch a future attack similar to what happened to Marawi City last year.

AFP logo (Manila Bulletin)

Bautista made the revelation in an interview during the Army-Media Fellowship Night held at the Army headquarters in Fort Bonifacio, Makati City on Friday night.

He said they continue to get numerous information that the recruitment continues and that foreign fighters have also arrived to join their local counterparts.

“Actually expected iyun ano (we already expected that). In fact after the Marawi liberation again its common action that supporters who are inside, the enemy whom we already neutralized and we have received reports that the recruitment is not limited within Lanao del Sur,” Bautista said.

“But it also continued in the area of Basilan, Sulu and even in the area of Palimbang,” he added.

Bautista said if one will observe prior to the Marawi siege, different terrorist groups united under the leadership of the late Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon to establish a caliphate state in Southeast Asia.

“And we all know that they have support coming from the different leaderships particularly in Indonesia and Malaysia and there were reports which are still being validated that they entered through the southern backdoor and even in Metro Manila there are but we were able to identify them and at the same time actions were taken by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the concentration right now is in Central Mindanao,” Bautista said.

He said if one will talk of Central Mindanao or local terrorist group in Central Mindanao, the BIFF or the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters comes to mind.

“Some local terrorist groups will unite with the BIFF as the area in Central Mindanao besides sa hindi masyado yung sundalo (there are less soldiers) and their movement in the area is malaki (big) so they take advantage of that,” Bautista said.

Bautista said the recruitment and threat continues and the possibility that terrorists will occupy or lay siege to another city is there.

“There is a threat, the recruitment continues so meaningful to say if the recruitment continues there is still a possibility that they will lay siege or occupy another city, not particularly Marawi City. That is a big possibility that is why the rehabilitation of Marawi City continuous,” he said.

Bautista said part of the recruitment is how they see the progress of the rehabilitation of Marawi will develop in the coming months.

UP Cebu masscom graduate captured, tagged as red

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Mar 5): UP Cebu masscom graduate captured, tagged as red

ILLEGAL POSSESSION OF FIREARMS Soldiers escort Myles Albasin, a mass communication graduate of the University of the Philippines-Cebu, and her companions to the prosecutor’s office in Dumaguete City to be charged with illegal possession of firearms. —FLORENCE BAESA/CEBU DAILY NEWS
Charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives were filed against six alleged communist rebels who were captured in Mabinay town, Negros Oriental on Saturday.

The six were brought to the Hall of Justice in the capital city of Dumaguete in Negros Oriental on Sunday to undergo inquest proceedings on the complaint filed against them by the military.

The military claimed that four M-16 assault rifles, with M-203 grenade launcher and two M-4 assault rifles were seized from them when they were captured.

They were later detained at the Negros Oriental Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center after they refused the inquest proceedings and opted to undergo preliminary investigation.

Meeting with farmers

In a radio interview, Myles Albasin, one of the arrested suspects, admitted she and her companions were in a remote community in the village of Luyang, Mabinay town, Negros Oriental to discuss poverty with farmers there.

She denied that the firearms seized by soldiers belonged to them. She said the guns belonged to the “organization.” She declined to elaborate.

Albasin, 21, and a native of Cagayan de Oro City, was a graduate of mass communications at the University of the Philippines-Cebu College.

Arrested with her were Carlo YbaƱez, 18, Mandaue City, Cebu; Ajomar Indico, 29 and Randel Hermino, 19, of Himamaylan City in Negros Occidental; Joel Baylosis, 18, of Mabinay and Bernard Guillen, 18, of Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental.

Chance encounter

Lt. Col. Darrel Banes, 62nd Infantry Battalion commanding officer, claimed that soldiers captured the suspects on their way to Mabinay to check on reports of rebel extortion.
The soldiers, said Banes, was met with gunfire which prompted them to fire back.

After a 45-minute clash, soldiers captured the suspects, including Albasin.

While studying in Cebu, Albasin was a member of progressive groups allied with the left.

After graduating last year, she became secretary general of the Cebu provincial chapter of Anakbayan, according to Joisa Cesista, the group’s current chair.

But Cesista said the group had not heard from her, following a meeting with lumad and Moro groups in August.

‘Publicity stunt’

The Nagkahiusang Kusog sa Estudyante, a leftist student organization in UP Cebu, said it refused to accept the military’s “publicity stunt.”

In its Facebook page, the group said Albasin was “steadfast in the struggle of the exploited and oppressed masses.”

It said the “heightening crisis” was forcing people, especially the youth, into taking up “an advanced form of struggle.”

In rejecting peace talks with the rebels, President Duterte earlier vowed to crush the New People’s Army (NPA) and run after so-called “legal fronts” of the rebel group.

In Agusan del Norte, the military arrested a couple allegedly behind the recruitment of minors into the NPA.

NPA recruiters

1st Lt. Teresita Ingente, spokesperson of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division based in Cagayan de Oro Ciy, said Aladin Apolinaria, 49 and his wife, Luzviminda, 45, were arrested in the village of Mahayahay on Saturday.

Ingente tagged the Apolinaria as members of the NPA’s Guerrilla Front 16, operating in Northern Mindanao.

13 civilians rounded up, teachers told to ‘report’ to military as Bukidnon lumad schools harassed – SOS Network

From InterAksyon (Mar 5): 13 civilians rounded up, teachers told to ‘report’ to military as Bukidnon lumad schools harassed – SOS Network

Map of Bukidnon Province.

Lumad schools in two Bukidnon towns have allegedly been targeted by the Army, with the teachers in one learning center ordered to report to the military and 13 members of the Parents Teachers Community Association of another, including village officials, rounded up by soldiers, a nongovernmental organization said.

However, the Save Our Schools Network said that, aside from the initial information relayed to it by their partners in the province, it has been unable to get updates because there is hardly any telecommunications signal in the remote communities hosting the schools run by the Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation Inc., or MISFI.

Last Thursday, March 1, SOS said members of the PTCA of the MISFI Academy in Barangay Digongan, Kitaotao town, where “illegaly arrested” by troops of the 88th Infantry Battalion and taken to the Army camp in Maramag.

Among those arrested were barangay captain Felimon Bangonan and village council members Paul Barrientos, Oloy Toledo, Villame Banggaan and Sedong Nasug.

The 13 were reportedly identified as alleged supporters of the New People’s Army by a hooded “rebel returnee” the soldiers had with them.

Four of the 13, including Bangonan, were released the next day. The rest, said SOS remain detained in Maramag. “The arrest was made without an arrest warrant and they are still detained without a formal complaint,” SOS said.

In San Fernando town, on the other hand, residents of Sitio Bayabas, Barangay Bonacao, including a lumad teacher assigned to the MISFI Academy in the community, were rounded up and taken to the military detachment in Barangay Bonacao, SOS said.

There, they were told that all teachers of the lumad school needed to report to the detachment.

Army: Surrenderers now at 877

From the Sun Star-Davao (Mar 4): Army: Surrenderers now at 877

THE Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) recorded 877 self-confessed New People’s Army (NPA) members and supporters who have pledged allegiance to the flag since December 21, 2017.
Eastmincom Public Information Officer Major Ezra Balagtey said these surrenderers are former members of the NPA operating in Compostela Valley and Davao del Norte provinces.
Balagtey said there were at least 39 regular NPA members, 179 Milisya Ng Bayan, 73 Sangay Ng Partido and 586 Mass Supporters of the NPA surrendered to the Philippine Army’s 1001st Infantry Brigade since December 21.
He added that during the same period, 15 firearms and nine Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) were also recovered by the government forces from the two provinces.
"Until now, members of the communist continue to yield to government and return to the folds of the law," Balagtey said, adding that among the surrenderers are 16 persons holding vital positions in the communist.
A certain Ka Anthony is a commanding officer of the Sandatahang Yunit Pampropaganda, Guerilla Front 2; Ka Charry, the vice-commanding officer of the Pulang Bagani Company 8; and Ka Dindo, a political instructor of Guerilla Front 33.
In an assessment made by the 1001st Brigade, which has operational jurisdiction in some parts of the two provinces, the massive influx of surrenderers is the result of President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to Davao City last December 21.
Duterte earlier had dialogue with 700 former rebels and offered them various assistances to start a new and peaceful life and encouraged other terrorists who are still active in the terrorist movement to surrender.
Army’s 1001st Brigade Commander Colonel Erwin Bernard Neri, in a statement, said many of those who surrendered felt the difficulty of continuously running away from the pursuing troops.
In a related development, a Sparu member of the NPA only named as Jano and a sub-section collector named alias Lenny was also apprehended in Maco town in Compostela Valley while extorting money from the residents.
Neri said this development is an offshoot of the continued support of the community exhibiting their disgust and hatred to the communist movement.

The U.S. Positions Warships In Tense Asia-Pacific Waters

From Oregon Public Broadcasting (Mar 4): The U.S. Positions Warships In Tense Asia-Pacific Waters (By Anthony Kuhn-National [Public Radio-NPR)


After a two-hour flight from Manila, the tailhook of the C-2 Greyhound cargo plane snagged a cable on the deck of the USS Carl Vinson, and went from about 100 miles an hour to zero in a couple of seconds.

The Carl Vinson is the flagship of the first carrier strike group of the U.S. Navy’s 3rd Fleet. It operates in tandem with the 7th Fleet, based in Yokosuka, Japan.

The Navy now has two fleets assigned to operate in the Western Pacific, as the United States shifts its priorities away from the Middle East, to deal with a number of potential flashpoints in the Asia Pacific.

The Navy invited journalists from Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and the United States aboard the carrier last week.

The ship was traveling through the middle of the South China Sea, east of the Paracel Islands, north of the Spratly Islands and west of the Philippines, according to the ship’s commanding officer, Capt. Douglas Verissimo. China considers the area its backyard, somewhat as the United States views the Caribbean. In recent years, China has reclaimed land on some of the islands and has installed air strips, hangars and weapons systems, despite Chinese leaders’ pledges not to militarize the islands. Vietnam and the Philippines have also built on some contested islands in the area, but to a far lesser extent.

“We have an entire floating city here, with machine shops and everything else that it would take not just to fix the aircraft carrier, but to maintain those ships and those aircraft that we deploy with,” Verissimo says.

The strike group includes a carrier air wing, two guided-missile destroyers and a guided-missile cruiser, with more than 6,000 combined crew.

On the ship’s deck, journalists watched F-18 Hornet and Super Hornet jets practice taking off and landing, with trails of smoke and a thunderous roar. The more the 70 aircraft aboard the ship include early warning aircraft, electronic warfare planes and several types of helicopters.

The USS Carl Vinson’s home port is San Diego, but for the second year in a row, it’s been operating in the Western Pacific for months at a stretch. The Navy has done this as part of a policy it calls “3rd Fleet Forward.”

The 3rd Fleet was created in 1943, and participated in decisive naval battles in World War II’s Pacific theater, such as the 1944 Battle of Leyte Gulf, under the command of Adm. William F. Halsey. From 1945 to 1973, it served as a reserve unit, providing training and backup.

Beginning in 2015, the 3rd Fleet was assigned to operate west of the International Date Line under its own command, from San Diego, instead of under the 7th Fleet’s command in Japan.

This arrangement “provides [military officials from] the Pacific Fleet Commander on up more options, it allows them to be more flexible, when you have two numbered fleets working in concert with one another,” Lt. Cmdr. Timothy Hawkins, a public affairs officer with the first strike group, explained.

At a conference last year, then-3rd Fleet Cmdr. Nora Tyson said in the event of a conflict on the Korean Peninsula, the fleet could be deployed to handle other contingencies, from humanitarian disasters to security situations in the South China Sea.

Capt. Verissimo adds that just by its presence, his ship sends an important message.

“We are used often as an information arm, that shows the resolve and gives decision space to our leaders,” he says. “When they put a carrier strike group somewhere, it helps to show that the U.S. is interested.”

The 3rd Fleet’s deployment westward shows that “the South China Sea is gaining more attention from the Pacific Command, and probably from the Pentagon,” observes professor Renato Cruz De Castro, at the International Studies Department at De La Salle University in Manila.

Cruz De Castro adds that the region is now home to no fewer than four potential flashpoints. Besides the Korean Peninsula, Chinese and Japanese military ships and planes are jousting for control of the Senkaku or Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea.

Tensions have also risen around Taiwan, since China-skeptic President Tsai Ing-wen took office in 2016. And then there is the South China Sea, where China has built up and fortified sandy reefs, and ignored a 2016 ruling by the international tribunal in The Hague that rejected China’s territorial claims to disputed islands.

The problem is that if the United States challenges China over Taiwan or the South China Sea, it risks losing Beijing’s cooperation on North Korea.

This was the subject of a fierce debate in 2016 between U.S. Pacific Command chief Adm. Harry Harris, who saw the South China Sea as the more pressing issue, and then-National Security Adviser Susan Rice, who was focused on North Korea. Both sides denied that Rice had imposed a gag order on the military over the spat.

Some ships of the 3rd Fleet have conducted freedom of navigation operations to challenge China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, but Carrier Strike Group 1 has not been involved in any such operations on this deployment so far, public affairs officer Hawkins says.

China, meanwhile, has beefed up its military, including developing supersonic anti-ship missiles. China could use these missiles to deny U.S. ships access to its near waters in the event of a conflict. Cruz De Castro notes, though, that the missiles have not been proved effective in combat.

Aboard the USS Carl Vinson, Carrier Strike Group 1 commander Rear Adm. John V. Fuller discussed these threats. “We have practiced and trained for contingencies as necessary,” he said. “I feel confident that I am going to bring my sailors back home to their families.”

China has also scored some diplomatic successes prying Southeast Asian allies away from the U.S.

In the Philippines, for example, President Rodrigo Duterte vowed to align his country closer to China and Russia, and kick U.S. military forces out. He blocked U.S. military access to two of five military bases in the country that a previous Philippine administration agreed to in 2014.

“If President Duterte would have it his way, he would push through with his separation from the United States,” explains Cruz De Castro. “But he had to take into account those two very important variables: the view of the Philippine military, and of course, our security partnership with Japan,” both of which favor closer ties with the United States.

Capt. Verissimo, meanwhile, insists the 3rd Fleet’s deployment westward is not aimed at China.

“I’d like to shy away from countering anybody specifically,” he says. “But we are certainly here to keep the norms and customs that we’ve been used to over the last 50 or 60 years. We don’t want to change that.”

One thing that’s sure to get Beijing’s attention is that the USS Carl Vinson will be docking in Vietnam this month, the first U.S. carrier to do that since the end of the Vietnam War, 43 years ago.

Vietnam is one of several of China’s neighbors embroiled in disputes over islands in the South China Sea.

The 3rd Fleet’s westward deployment comes after two major accidents in the 7th Fleet last year shook the Navy. Two collisions took the lives of 17 sailors. An investigation concluded that the fleet was conducting so many maneuvers at sea that they didn’t have time for proper training.

Last year, President Trump said he was sending “an armada” toward North Korea. The USS Carl Vinson, which was supposed to be part of that force, was in fact thousands of miles away. The carrier had to cut short joint exercises with Australia and head north.

After two years of deployments in the Western Pacific, the crew members of the USS Carl Vinson are gradually adapting to the pressures of being away from home for half a year at a time.

“I do feel down sometimes, but I’m a very positive person,” says machinery repairman Matthew Allen, taking a break from milling a block of aluminum down in the shop. “I look at all the positive things that’ll come after this, and my wife’s smiling face as soon as I come back home — that’s everything I look forward to.”

He adds that he’s not too worried about the risk of a conflict during his deployments. He says he’s confident his commanders have a good game plan, in case of trouble.

DWDD: PEACE EFFORTS | Third batch of Former Rebels visits Manila

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Mar 5): PEACE EFFORTS  |  Third batch of Former Rebels visits Manila

CAMP GEN EMILIO AGUINALDO, Quezon City (DWDD) – The third batch of Former Rebels (FR) will be flown to Manila today March 5, 2018 via Philippine Air Force C-130 aircraft from Davao City.

Like the previous two tours, the former rebels will dine with President Rodrigo Duterte in MalacaƱang.

The group is part of the 683 former New People’s Army (NPA) rebels from different parts of Eastern Mindanao that were presented to the President on December 21, 2017, at Panacan, Davao City.

The tour aims to give the FRs a better perspective in life, particularly in peace-building and nationalism. It is part of the government’s continuing activity of reintegrating the former rebels in the mainstream society.

Part of their tour will be a historical and heritage trip Luneta and Intamuros, a Welcome Ceremony at Camp Gen Emilio Aguinaldo, to be hosted by General Rey Leonardo Guerrero, AFP Chief of Staff, a tour and dinner at Malacanan and a visit to a mall.

Prior to their dinner with the President, they will also get a chance to interact with other former NPA members who now work as advocates of peace and development.

Meanwhile, Lt. Gen. Benjamin R. Madrigal Jr., Commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command reiterates the willingness and openness of EMC to assist NPAs who are willing to surrender.

“We are committed and more than willing to accommodate NPAs who want to return to the folds of the law and take part in building a nation of peace for progress and development. The programs lined up for the 683 FRs and the community programs being implemented in the different communities are manifestations of the social economic reforms being implemented by the government.” Lt. Gen. Madrigal Jr. said. AES / MCAG

DWDD: FUTURE LEADERS | PMA Entrance Exam Set on August 19,2018

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Mar 5): FUTURE LEADERS  |  PMA Entrance Exam Set on August 19,2018



The PMA Requirements for admission in the PMA are the following:

– Natural-born Filipino citizen
– Minimum 5 feet for both male and female
– Physically fit and of good moral character
– Single and has never been married
– Grade 11 students and below are not yet qualified to take the exam.
– High school graduate with 85% GPA
– Grade 12 Senior High School may take the exam provided that they graduate before April 01,2019 (K-12)
– 17 years old to 21 years old


 1. Duly accomplished application form. Download it here >>
2. NSO Birth Certificate (Photocopy)
3. Original and photocopy of ANY of the following:
– Copy of your High School form 137
– Latest grade in High School if currently in Grade 12
– Certificate of Grades from last semester attended (for college students)


DWDD: SUSTAINED OPERATIONS | 403IBDe Troops Seize Communist Terrorist Explosives in Bukidnon

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Mar 5): SUSTAINED OPERATIONS  |  403IBDe Troops Seize Communist Terrorist Explosives in Bukidnon

VALENCIA CITY, Bukidnon (DWDD) – Joint elements of Bukidnon Police Provincial Office and 88th Infantry “Maringal” Battalion (88IB) seized thirty (30) Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and bomb-making paraphernalia from suspected Communist Party of the Philippine – New Peoples’ Army terrorists (CNTs) in Purok 5, Brgy. Lumbo, Valencia City, Bukidnon, March 1, 2018, around 11:55 AM.


The items seized were twenty-one (21) improvised hand grenades, five (5) improvised antipersonnel landmines, four (4) dynamites, sixty (60) blasting caps, 240.5 kilograms steel cut fragments, 370 meters safety fuse, two (2) steel pipes, three (3) PVC pipes, 52.5 meters electrical wires, three (3) kilograms soluble fertilizer, 200 grams sulfur, one kilogram ANFO fertilizer, and 0.4 gram gun powder.

The incident took place after the military and the police responded to a report of concerned local residents about the presence of 2 unidentified individuals in the said area who were carrying five 5 sacks of suspicious items.


Said individuals immediately fled the scene upon arrival of the joint elements of PNP and 88IB leaving behind the IEDs and other paraphernalia.

In a statement, Brigadier General Eric Vinoya, Commander of the Army’s 403rd Infantry Brigade, praised the personnel involved in the joint AFP-PNP law enforcement operations while condemning the CPP-NPA for their continued use of landmines to terrorize communities.

“I congratulate the personnel of Valencia City Police Station as well as the Bukidnon Police Provincial Office and 88th Infantry Battalion for successfully pre-empting the possible destruction to lives and limbs of both our troops and civilians through the seizure of these explosives and paraphernalia. These materials indicate the continued disrespect of the CPPNPA Terrorists on the rights of both our state security forces and the civilians by continuing to manufacture such IEDs that are intended to mutilate the bodies of their victims.” said Vinoya.

Meanwhile, Police Senior Superintendent Benedicto Pintor, Provincial Director of Bukidnon Police Provincial Office, encouraged the local populace of Bukidnon to continue cooperating with their PNP and AFP in order to ensure peace and order and public safety.

“We encourage the public, particularly our local populace here in the province of Bukidnon whom we dearly serve, to continue cooperating with the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Army on reporting suspicious activities and presence of unfamiliar faces in their communities so that we can always prevent crimes and acts of terrorism in our area.” said Pintor.

Last February 22, 2018 during the Joint Peace and Security Coordinating Conference held at Camp Alagar, Cagayan de Oro City, Philippine National Police Regional Office 10 (PRO10) and Philippine Army’s 4 th Infantry “Diamond” Division (4ID) signed a Joint Internal Security Operations Campaign Plan that aims for the collaboration of training, simulation exercises and security operations between the Police Regional Office 10 and 4th ID.

“This is not the first time the PNP and the Philippine Army conducted joint operations towards the NPA terrorists. The Joint Internal Security Operations Plan have well served its purpose because our operations with the PNP have been successful. Now, I am calling to the other sectors of our society, we cannot fight terrorist alone – your security forces will not be able to do it on our own, fighting terrorism in Northern Mindanao requires everybody’s effort. Together, we can stop terrorism brought by the CPP-NPA.” Major General Ronald Villanueva, Commander of 4ID said. 403IBDe / MCAG

DWDD: ENDING THE DECEIT | NPA Terrorist couple apprehended for recruiting Minors

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Mar 5): ENDING THE DECEIT |  NPA Terrorist couple apprehended for recruiting Minors

KITCHARAO, Agusan del Norte (DWDD) – Joint forces of Philippine National Police (PNP) Regional Mobile Forces Battalion 13 (RMFB13) and 29th Infantry (MATATAG) Battalion (29IB) apprehended a New Peoples’ Army (NPA) terrorist couple Luzviminda Apolinaria, 45 years old, and Aladin Apolinaria, 49 years old, both NPA Party Branch member of Sangay ng Partido sa Platun16A (SPP16A) of Guerilla Front 16 (GF16) of Northern Mindanao Regional Committee (NMRC) at Purok 7, Brgy Mahayahay, Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte, by virtue of a warrant of arrest (WOA) issued by 10th Judicial Region Branch 34, Cabadbaran City, Agusan del Norte without bail.


The couple were the recruiters of former rebels, Glenie Omahas Also Known As (AKA) Dave, Garry Alimboyong AKA John and Rudy Alimboyong AKA Bunso that surrendered last December 2016.

“The former rebels were recruited at a minor age. In fact, Omahas was 16yrs old and Garry Alimboyong was 15 yrs old when he was a member of Militiang Bayan sometime in 2014 and was 17 yrs old when he joined the NPA as a regular member. This showed that NPAs are not only terrorists but also child exploiters.” Lt Colonel Glen Aynera the Commanding Officer of 29IB stated.

Two of the former rebels filed a case that became a basis for the apprehension with Criminal Case # CR-17-161 to CR-17-163, for violation of Republic Act (RA) No. 9208 as amended by RA10364, also known as Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012 and Violation of RA7610, Anti-Child Abuse Law. WOA was issued by 10th Judicial Region Branch 34, Cabadbaran City, Agusan del Norte without bail recommended.


Major General Ronald Villanueva, Commander of 4th Infantry “Diamond” Division reminds parents saying, “I urge parents to safeguard their children especially now that summertime is approaching. CPP-NPA terrorists will step-up its youth recruitment in far-flung areas and in cities. During this period, students recruited from universities are most likely to be exposed with the life of a NPA terrorist in the countryside. Do not let your children be a victim of the terroristic ideology of Communist Party of the Philippines and the New Peoples’ Army.”

Series of apprehensions were made possible of joint efforts with PNP and the Philippine Army in Caraga Region that proves that both security forces wanted a common goal of a lasting peace.

“Joint Operations of PNP and the Philippine Army have been very effective in our area. This is the reason for a smooth filing of cases towards the perpetrators are always served and in accordance with the law.” Brigadier General Franco Gacal of 4th Infantry Division’s 402nd Infantry Brigade Commander said.

Apprehended NPA terrorists are currently at Kitcharao MPS and will be transported to Agusan Del Norte Police Provincial Office for proper disposition. 4DPAO / MCAG