Friday, May 11, 2018

DWDD: ACTIVITIES | 3rd Infantry Division 44th Founding Anniversary

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (May 11): ACTIVITIES  |  3rd Infantry Division 44th Founding Anniversary

CAMP MACARIO PERALTA, Jamindan, Capiz (DWDD) The Army’s 3rd Infantry “Spearhead” Division under the leadership of Brigadier General Dinoh Dolina staged its pre-anniversary activities highlighting the Division’s founding year.


Numerous activities were held to mark the Division’s 44th Founding Anniversary. To enhance the camaraderie and skills of our personnel and to develop their competitive spirit, the Division Sports Fest was conducted on March 20-April 16, followed by the Infantry/DRO Squad Challenge on May 01-05 of this year.

Also achieved was a successful Blood Letting Activity held at Camp Peralta on April 30, 2016. To support and promote environmental protection, Nature Trekking and Tree Planting activity were held on May 04. Most Reverend Jose Advincula, D.D, Archbishop of Capiz also joined in the aforementioned activities.

In line with the Division’s objective of becoming the cleanest and greenest camp, the Clean and Green Contest was also held wherein, General and Special Staffs, together with posts and tenant units actively participated. A Night of Music with the 3ID Combo was held on May 05 and series of successful Kinetic and Static Display on May 06 at Plazuela de Iloilo and Gaisano, Silay City and on May 07 at Gaisano, Roxas City.


Other activities like Military Artifacts and Photo Contests in connection with the said celebration was also conducted.

Brigadier General Dinoh Dolina, Commander, 3ID, PA, said that the 3ID adopts this year’s theme: “Apat na pu’t apat na Taong Tapat na Paglilingkod at Bayanihan para sa Kapayapaan Tungo sa Maunlad na Gitna at Kanlurang Bisayas.”

“Your Army in Central and Western Visayas has been serving the nation with great distinction of professionalism and excellence. Your Spearhead troopers will continue safeguarding the land and will remain prepared to meet the challenges to our internal security, with the ultimate purpose of protecting the property and lives of our people towards a peaceful and progressive Central and Western Visayas”, Dolina added. ”

Our concerted efforts to attain peace and prosperity will not end on this decade, rest assured that your Spearhead Troopers are here to protect you at all times”, Dolina further said.

The 3ID held its 44th founding anniversary celebration May 10, 2018, graced by Lt Gen. Rolando Joselito Bautista, Commanding General, Philippine Army and Honorable Antonio del Rosario, Governor of the province of Capiz. 3DPAO / MCAG

Solon says US-PH war games inutile vs China encroachment

From the Philippine News Agency (May 11): Solon says US-PH war games inutile vs China encroachment

U.S. Marines assigned to 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment and Philippine Marines with 10th Marines Company ride in an amphibious assault vehicle during an amphibious landing exercise at the Navy Education and Training Command in San Antonio, Zambales, on May 9, 2018 during Exercise Balikatan. (Photo from Exercise Balikatan Facebook page/U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Charles Plouffe)

The on-going military exercises of US and Philippine forces bear no advantages for the government against the continuing aggression of China into the country’s territories, particularly at the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

This was raised by Anakpawis party list Representative Ariel Casilao as he denounced the latest US-PH Balikatan war games that opened earlier this week.
Casilao said such exercises “are already proven useless to develop the country’s capacity to defend against foreign aggressors, especially China and it’s intensified built up of military power in the WPS “.

“The country held almost countless military exercises with the US military forces, but we ended being our territories under foreign control, it is enough indication that it is useless for the Filipino people,” Casilao said in a statement he issued on Thursday.

He also scored the exclusion of the Philippines to the seemingly “closed” agenda between the US and China despite the presence of the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT).

“There is already the US, then Australia and Japan, with China in the West Philippine Sea, this is already an expression of a failing state losing control of its territory,” the Makabayan solon said.

Casilao also criticised President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement of not taking sides with China or US over the missile installation issue in WPS, an inaction that expresses “utter declaration of not taking the side of our country as a sovereign nation who is supposedly enjoying the right to self-determination, free from foreign intervention.“

Duterte, he added, should declare the throwing out of military forces both of US and China from the country.

Casilao also disagreed with presidential spokesperson Harry Roque who previously pronounced that China does not see the country as a threat.

“Nothing good will come out from military exercises with the US, nor from the continuing feebleness against Chinese snatching of Philippine territories, the president should assert national sovereignty and freedom from foreign intervention and aggression,” he added.

An independent foreign policy is what the people are demanding, Casilao pointed out, as he also called for the scrapping of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT), the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), and other onerous military agreement with the US.

He also called on the government to assert the nation’s rights against Chinese incursion at the WPS.

“We should breakout on the dichotomy that if we oppose US foreign military intervention, we are siding with China, and vice-versa, we call on Filipinos to stand up for Philippine national sovereignty, and our right to self-determination involving our territories, and not rely on a foreign power, whose vested interests are detrimental to the people,” Casilao said.

Army helps settle land dispute in Sultan Kudarat

From the Philippine News Agency (May 11): Army helps settle land dispute in Sultan Kudarat

CONFLICT SETTLEMENT. Army Lieutenant Colonels Harold Cabunoc and Lauro Oliveros (in fatigue uniforms), commanders of the Army's 33rd and 1st Mechanized infantry battalions, witness the signing of a sign a peace deal that finally resolves a decade-old land dispute in President Quirino, Sultan Kudarat. (Photo by 33rd IB)

PRESIDENT QUIRINO, Sultan Kudarat – Military officials here have successfully reconciled warring families locked in a long-standing land dispute after a series of mediation that led to the signing of a settlement pact.

Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc and Lt. Col. Lauro Oliveros, commanders of the Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion and 1st Mechanized Infantry Battalion, respectively, facilitated on Wednesday the peaceful resolution of the land conflict between a landowner and claimants in Barangay Katiku here.

The families have been locked in an ownership battle over a 10-hectare farmland in the village. Following a series of negotiations facilitated by the two Army battalion commanders, both parties agreed to a deal in which the Vallejos family would be paid PHP1.2 million for the property.

The land conflict has become a flashpoint in the area after Moro Islamic Liberation Front members began attacking the Christian-dominated community of Katiku in 2009.

Both Cabunoc and Oliveros said the settlement reflects the Army's role as not only confined to war but also covers dispute resolution, especially on land ownership.

Cabunoc said the settlement was made possible through the support of Mayor Abdulkarim Langkuno of Paglat town, Mayor Bonnie Kali of Gen. SK Pendatun, Pres. Quirino Mayor Azel Mangudadatu, and Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu.

The provincial government, through the Maguindanao Task Force on Reconciliation and Unification, has facilitated dozens of “rido” (clan war) originating from land disputes.

Army seizes 7 high-powered firearms in Maguindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (May 11): Army seizes 7 high-powered firearms in Maguindanao 

SEIZED. The seven high-powered firearms recovered by troopers of the Army's 40th Infantry Battalion during clearing operations on Thursday (May 10) in the interiors of Rajah Buayan, Sultan sa Barongis, and Mamasapano towns in Maguindanao. (Photo by 6ID)
CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao – Troopers from the Army’s 40th Infantry Battalion (IB) seized Thursday seven high-powered firearms during combat clearing operations in three Maguindanao towns.

Brigadier General Diosdado Carreon, the Army’s 601st Infantry Brigade commander, said the loose firearms came from secluded areas of adjoining Rajah Buayan, Sultan Sa Barongis, and Mamasapano, all in the second district of the province.

The military's aggressive drive against unlicensed guns is in response to President Rodrigo Duterte's campaign against criminality, Carreon said.

The recovered firearms consist of one M14 rifle, one M16 rifle, one homemade M79 launcher, one Ingram machine pistol, two homemade shotguns and one .45 caliber pistol.

“We have been gaining grounds against lawless groups due to our relentless combat clearing operations,” Carreon said.

Lt. Gen. Arnel B. Dela Vega, Army’s 6th Infantry Division chief, said that terroristic activities against military, police, and civilians have been pre-empted due to proactive measures being undertaken with the help of the community.

Militiamen foil BIFF bombing attempt in Maguindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (May 11): Militiamen foil BIFF bombing attempt in Maguindanao

AMPATUAN, Maguindanao--Army intelligence agents intercepted an alleged bombing plot here by the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) Thursday evening.

Lt. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, Army’s 6th Infantry Division commander, said in a report that Army intelligence operatives immediately alerted members of Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) stationed in Barangay Dicalungan on a roadside bomb.

“True enough, at past 8 p.m. militiamen manning the highway detachment found the improvised bomb left by two men riding tandem on a motorbike,” he said.

Dela Vega said the BIFF left near the militia detachment a powerful improvised explosive device fashioned from a live 81-mm mortar projectile with mobile phone as trigger mechanism.

After an hour-long operation, Army bomb experts defused the explosive at past 9 p.m. Traffic along the highway was shut down while deactivation operation was going on.

Dela Vega identified the BIFF personnel who planted the IED as Ali Usman and Saudi Manguka, both followers of BIFF field commander Sukarno Zapal.

At about the same time, the military official said a band of BIFF members harassed an Army detachment in Barangay Madia, Datu Saudi Ampatuan. Three soldiers were slightly injured when the BIFF fired rocket-propelled grenades toward the detachment.

Those injured were identified as Private Richie John Nauta, Sgt. Ronald Tabunan and Sgt. Dennis Cantillano. Three BIFF were also killed when hit by a mortar round, the Army said, quoting local officials of Barangay Madia.

Barangay Madia is one of the identified election hotspots in the coming Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections.

Army, cops ink ARMM BSKE security plan

From the Philippine News Agency (May 11): Army, cops ink ARMM BSKE security plan

SECURITY MOA. Commission on Elections - Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Director Ray Sumalipao is flanked by Lieutenant Gen. Arnel dela Vega, Army 6th Infantry Division and Joint Task Force Central commander (left) and Chief Supt. Graciano Mijares, ARMM police director (right), in signing Thursday (May 10) a joint security plan for Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur provinces in connection with the May 14 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan polls. (Photo by 6ID)

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao – Top military and police officials here, in coordination with the Commission on Elections (Comelec), signed Thursday a joint security plan in connection with the May 14 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (BSKE) polls.

Lt. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, the Army’s 6th Infantry Division and Joint Task Force Central commander, together with Chief Supt. Graciano Mijares, police director of the Autonomous Region Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), and Comelec–ARMM Director Ray Sumalipao, signed a memorandum of agreement outlining the security plan Thursday in this camp.

The security plan provides guideline and procedures that would be undertaken by military and police units as deputized agencies by the Comelec to ensure honest, orderly, peaceful, and credible election, particularly in the provinces of Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur.

The security plan includes activation of Joint Security Control Centers throughout the region; conduct of internal security operation; counter-terrorism operation and community support operation; implementation of the campaign against loose firearms and COMELEC’s ban on bearing, carrying, and transporting of firearms or other deadly weapons and use of security personnel.

The strategy also provides the establishment of joint COMELEC-AFP-PNP checkpoints; organization of Joint Task Group to dismantle identified partisan and private armed groups; implementation of the provisions for Protective Security Detail as directed by the COMELEC; proper conduct and decorum of AFP and PNP personnel during the election period and guidelines on the deployment of AFP-PNP personnel for election duties; and sustain the gains of martial law in Mindanao.

“Under the guidance on the security plan, the military will ensure utmost support and assistance to the COMELEC from the regional down to the municipal level with regards to the security of the election officials are concerned including the transport and delivery and election paraphernalia,” Dela Vega said.

Sumalipao, for his part, described the signing of the joint security plan as an indication that everybody is prepared for honest, orderly and peaceful election.

Representatives from the Department of Interior and Local Government- ARMM, Department of Education-ARMM, National Citizen’s Movement for Free Election, Masjid Affair, and Archdiocese of Cotabato, witnessed the MOA engagement.

Yucoco retires from AFP top logistics post

From the Philippine News Agency (May 11): Yucoco retires from AFP top logistics post

Major Gen. Job Yucoco, the Armed Forces of the Philippines' (AFP) deputy chief-of-staff for logistics, formally retired from the military last May 9 after rendering 38 years of service.

In a statement issued Thursday, AFP Public Affairs Office chief, Lt. Col. Emmanuel Garcia said Yucoco, turned over his post to Brig. Joselito Ramos, AFP assistant deputy chief-of-staff for logistics, who will serve in an acting capacity.

Yucoco, a member of Philippine Military Academy Class of 1984
, is a native of Floridablanca, Pampanga.

The turnover ceremony took place at the Tejeros Hall of the AFP Commissioned Officers Club in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

In his nearly three-year tenure as AFP deputy chief-of-staff for logistics, Yucoco was instrumental in helping formulate plans and policies on logistics, including the Self-Reliant Defense Posture Program.

AFP denies 'Southern Command' withdrawing support

From the Philippine News Agency (May 11): AFP denies 'Southern Command' withdrawing support

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Friday denied a "Messenger" post which claimed that soldiers from "Southern Command" are allegedly withdrawing support to the national government.

"A 'Messenger' post purportedly from the soldiers of the "Southern Command" allegedly withdrawing support to government and President Rodrigo R. Duterte and encouraging other AFP units to follow suit is now circulating in social media," AFP spokesperson Col. Edgard Arevalo said.

"Few people sent it to me to determine its veracity. That is a fake statement. It did not come from the military," he said.

He also clarified that there is no "Southern Command" of the AFP, saying that the post is the handiwork of individuals who intend to sow discord and discredit the military as a professional organization.

Arevalo also assured the public that the AFP will be "united and steadfast" amid such disinformation.

"Your AFP shall and will remain united and steadfast following duly constituted authority and under the Chain-of-Command with the President and Commander-in-Chief on top of the hierarchy," Arevalo said.

AFP chief Galvez now a four-star general

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 9): AFP chief Galvez now a four-star general

Rodrigo Duterte with incoming Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Carlito Galvez Jr., during the Armed Forces of Philippines (AFP) change of command ceremony at the AFP Headquarters on Wednesday, April 18, 2018. PHOTO /Joan Bondoc, PDI
General Carlito Galvez received his fourth star on Wednesday after almost a month after he assumed as the chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Galvez led the 38 other star-rank officers in the oathtaking ceremony before President Rodrigo Duterte in Malacañang.

Before the ceremony, Duterte and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana donned the four-star rank to Galvez.

The newly-promoted AFP chief took over the top military post last April 18. He replaced now-retired Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero.

LOOK: China military aircraft, ships in artificial islands near PH

From ABS-CBN (May 10): LOOK: China military aircraft, ships in artificial islands near PH

China has deployed a military aircraft to a base it built on a reclaimed island in the South China Sea, photos from an American think tank released Wednesday confirmed.

The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative published photos taken from April 28 showing a military aircraft, a Shaanxi Y-8, at Subi Reef in the Spratly Islands.

A Shaanxi Y-8 is shown in an airstrip in a base built by China on Subi Reef. Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative

AMTI said the Y-8 was "designed as a military transport aircraft, but some variants are used for maritime patrol or signals intelligence."

"This should be particularly concerning to the Philippines, which has about 100 civilians and a small military garrison on Thitu Island just 12 nautical miles away," the think tank said.

It added, with the recent deployment, military aircraft have landed on all three of China’s airstrips in the Spratly Islands after a naval patrol aircraft also landed at Fiery Cross Reef in April 2016 and 2 Xian Y-7 military transport aircraft were seen on Mischief Reef in a photo dated January 6.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration has ruled in 2016 that Mischief Reef is part of the Philippine continental shelf.

Military jamming equipment seen on Mischief Reef in May 6, 2018. Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative

Apart from the aircraft, military jamming equipment were also sighted in Mischief and Fiery Cross reefs. AMTI said the systems were visible in satellite imagery of Mischief from at least mid-February, and were still present as of May 6, although placed under covers.

American television network CNBC, citing sources close to United States intelligence, earlier reported that the Chinese army installed anti-ship and air-to-air defenses on outposts in Fiery Cross Reef, Subi Reef and Mischief Reef.

China installs cruise missiles on South China Sea outposts-CNBC report

AMTI noted that China's deployments in the 3 reefs followed a "pattern" it also set at Woody Island in the Paracel Islands, where it has rival claims with Vietnam and Taiwan.

"From harbor dredging and runway improvements to hangar and radar construction, upgrades at Woody Island have served as a blueprint for things to come on China’s Spratly holdings to the south," the think tank said.

Beijing deployed HQ-9s and anti-ship cruise missiles (YJ-62s) to Woody in 2016. Satellite imagery also captured five Y-8 aircraft on the island in November 2017, said AMTI.

"Considering that China has built identical hangars for combat aircraft at Woody and on each of the Big Three, it is likely that J-10s or J-11s will soon find their way south to the Spratly Islands," it said, pertaining to 2 kinds of fighter jets.

J-11B fighter jets parked on Woody Island, April 26, 2018. Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative

Satellite images from AMTI also showed that China's destroyers, frigates, combat ships and patrol vessels "regularly visit the artificial islands, along with many auxiliary and logistics vessels," underlying the presence of the People’s Liberation Army Navy and China Coast Guard in the area.

A Type 053H1G Jianghu Upgrade frigate close to Fiery Cross Reef, May 4, 2017. Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative

A Type 051B Luhai Destroyer at Fiery Cross Reef, May 20, 2017. Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative

A Zhongyang-class CCG patrol ship, docked at Subi Reef on April 28, 2018. Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative

Apart from combatant and law enforcement vessels, AMTI said an array of support ships, including tankers, tugboats, and replenishment vessels, as well as an oceanographic surveillance ship have been seen.

A ship believed to be a Fubai AOT oil tanker at Mischief Reef, May 6, 2018. Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said "any possible scenario that would encourage military action in our backyard, in our exclusive economic zone" would be "troublesome."

However, he said the Philippines is also confident it is not the target of the missiles because of the friendship between China and the Philippines.

“We are exploring all diplomatic options which does not mean we are not doing anything,” he told reporters at a briefing in Malacañang.

“I was, from the very beginning, saying we are concerned. But you can’t ignore the fact that because of our very good relations, we are confident China as a country does not view us as a threat.”

The arbitration court in 2016 rejected Beijing's historic claims to most of the South China Sea, acting on the case brought by former President Benigno Aquino III after a standoff between Chinese coast guard ships and a Philippine naval vessel in the Scarborough Shoal.

READ: Arbitral court's ruling on Philippines vs China

While it clarified the status of territories within the disputed waters, it did not rule on the matter of sovereignty or ownership.

Don't call West Philippine Sea 'disputed', says Carpio

President Rodrigo Duterte set this decision aside as he distanced Manila from its traditional ally, the United States, and embraced China, seeking financial and military aid.

Balikatan 18: US, Philippine forces exchange ideas, best practices

From DVIDS (May 9): Balikatan 18: US, Philippine forces exchange ideas, best practices

U.S. and Philippine armed forces work to cultivate strong partnerships between the two nations by exchanging and demonstrating best practices and procedures during Exercise Balikatan, which is scheduled from May 7-18, 2018 at various locations across the Philippines.

This year marks the 34th iteration of the annual training event focused on a variety of missions including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, counterterrorism, and mutual defense. This year’s Balikatan also focuses on interoperability training events designed to enhance the combined capabilities of both the Philippine and U.S. armed forces.

“We came to Balikatan because we want to be interoperable with the Philippine military and with our joint counterparts,” said Lt. Col. John Matuszak, Balikatan Exercise Coordinator and deputy commander of the 36th Contingency Response Group (CRG) from Andersen Air Base in Guam. “We learn a lot from each other just by talking and asking questions about how we do things.”

Balikatan is a Filipino term that means “shoulder-to-shoulder” or “sharing the load together” and characterizes the spirit of the exercise. Over the next several days, both nations will participate in multiple subject matter expert exchanges (SMEE) designed to enhance their capabilities.

“The good thing about these activities is that the subject matter experts in each area give their best practices to their counterparts,” said Philippine Air Force Major Arvin Gundran, Director of Operations of the 600th Air Base Group and Balikatan SMEE Coordinator for the Philippines.

Through this years’ Exercise Balikatan, as in previous years, both nations will benefit from the increased cooperation and understanding during real-world missions.

This process allows us to both learn and teach in areas that we are responsible for, including base security, aerodrome operations and other base services, Gundran explained.

"The 36th CRG has a long history with this exercise and we’ve been coming here for the past two decades," Matuszak said. "We both participate with the intent of learning from each other, and this all builds a certain level of trust. Even if we’ve been gone for months, we can rely on the critical connections we make here."

The exercise is scheduled to incorporate multiple SMEEs, including command and control, flight operations, para-rescue procedures, combatives and a simulated mass casualty response.

Philippine marines to acquire amphibious assault vehicles

From the Philippine Star (May 10): Philippine marines to acquire amphibious assault vehicles                          

The Philippine Marine Corps is expecting to acquire eight new amphibious assault vehicles (AAV) by April next year.

Philippine marines, together with their American counterparts, conducted amphibious landing exercises on Wednesday as part of the annual Balikatan exercises.

Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Salamat, Philippine exercise director, said that the exercise is important for the Armed Forces of the Philippines prior to the acquisition of amphibious vehicles next year.

WATCH: Philippines, US marines hold amphibious landing exercise in Zambales

Maj. Gen. Alvin Parreño, commandant of the Philippine Marine Corps, said that the amphibious vehicles might be deployed to Mindanao.

"Initially ang deployment natin is in Mindanao and other places kung saan ituro ng necessity ng Armed Forces of the Philippines," Parreño told reporters.

The US Marines used four of its AAVs belonging to the 3rd Combat Support Company Hawaii during the joint exercises at the Naval Education and Training Command in San Antonio, Zambales.

The vehicles carried a combined platoon of Philippine and US marines from the beach out into the ocean, maneuvered around the Philippine Navy's BRP Davao del Sur and landed back to the shore to allow the marines to simulate assault onto the beach.

"Amphibious training is an important part of Balikatan Exercise as it enhances the capabilities of both the AFP and US Armed Forces during operations from sea to land," Salamat said.

RELATED: Philippines, US marines hold drills near Scarborough

In 2016, Korean firm Hanhwa Techwin, formerly Samsung Techwin, won the bidding for the Department of National Defense's acquisition project in providing eight AAVs for the Philippine marines.

The acquisition of the eight brand new AAVs is worth P2.423 billion. It is among the multi-year contract projects that former President Benigno Aquino III approved.

The amphibious vehicles are designed to assault any shoreline from decks of Navy assault ships. They can also transport marines and cargo through hostile territory.

US, Filipino troops storm beach during ramped-up Balikatan drills

From Stars and Stripes (May 10): US, Filipino troops storm beach during ramped-up Balikatan drills

U.S. and Philippine Marines land on a beach in amphibious-assault vehicles during a past drill on the island of Luzon, Philippines. SETH ROBSON/STARS AND STRIPES

American and Filipino troops stormed a beach on the western shore of Luzon island Wednesday during the allies’ largest joint drills since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed power nearly two years ago.
About 8,000 are from both countries participating in the 34th iteration of the annual Balikatan exercise, which means “shoulder to shoulder” in Tagalog and runs through May 18 in the Philippines.

Before the beach landing, four Marine Corps amphibious-assault vehicles from the Hawaii-based 3rd Combat Support Company launched from Zambales Province carrying a platoon of American and Filipino Marines, according to a statement issued Thursday by forces involved in Balikatan.

The floating troop-carriers maneuvered around the Philippine navy’s landing platform dock ship BRP Davao Del Sur before heading back to shore where the Marines stormed onto the beach, the statement said.

The beach assault took place in the same area where the allies’ conducted similar training during annual PHIBLEX amphibious landing exercises before they were canceled by Duterte shortly after he took office. The maverick strongman had clashed with U.S. officials over his war on drugs and was looking for closer ties with China and Russia.

However, U.S.-Philippines relations improved last year with American troops supporting Filipino soldiers battling Islamic militants in the south and China continuing to militarize outposts on disputed sea territory.

The goal of the Luzon landings was to improve the rapid deployment of forces during military operations on a hostile shore, exercise director Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Salamat said in the statement.

“Amphibious training is an important part of Balikatan Exercise as it enhances the capabilities of both [militaries] during operations from sea to land,” he said.

Troops landing on a beach could face dangerous weather or even an aggressive enemy, the statement said.

“Bilateral training increases our ability to respond quickly and work together effectively as a combined unit,” Lt. Col. Daniel Gaskell, commander of the Camp Lejeune-based 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment said in the statement.

“By doing this [amphibious] landing as one team we are able learn from our partners and function as a cohesive unit when responding to a real-world crisis,” he said. “By training together now, we don’t lose time when our nations need us the most.”

NPA vs 1003rd brigade nagka-engkwentro sa Bukidnon

From the Radio Mindanao Network (May 10): NPA vs 1003rd brigade nagka-engkwentro sa Bukidnon

Nagkaengkwentro ang sakop sa New People’s Army kun NPA ug 1003rd Infantry Brigade Philippine Army sa Sitio Linao, Kitaotao, Bukidnon ala 1:30 kaganinang hapon.

Kini ang gikumpirma ni 10th Infantry Division spokesperson Capt. Jerry Lamosao human nga giberipika sa DXDC RMN Davao kaniya ang impormasyon nga nadawat gikan sa DXDC textline nga adunay matud pa engkwentro sa Marilog.

Sumala sa tigpamaba nga duol lang matud pa sa Marilog ang encounter site.

Hinuon walay napagan sa bahin sa tropa sa gobyerno samtang wala pa nila nasuta og aduna bay samaran sa pikas pundok.

Sa karon padayon ang ginahimong hot pursuit operation sa kasundaluhan sa area human sa maong engkwentro.

'Suspected rebels' burn truck

From the Sun Star-Bacolod (May 11): 'Suspected rebels' burn truck

A six-wheeler canter truck loaded with fertilizers was allegedly burned by suspected New People's Army (NPA) at Barangay Magallon Cadre in Moises Padilla, Negros Occidental on Thursday morning, May 10.

Police records showed that overseer Ignacio Ogatis reported to the authorities that five unidentified armed men arrived at the area around 8 a.m. while they were unloading the fertilizers from the truck that was parked at the hacienda road.

The armed men told them "indi kamo magpasilabot kay NPA ni" (Do not intervene because we are NPA).

The perpetrators then took their firearms and fired at the truck's fuel tank.

They then poured gasoline and set it on fire.

They left the workers unharmed and fled towards neighboring La Castellana town.

Police recovered from the scene a fired cartridge of .45 caliber pistol, and a slug of .9mm caliber.

The fire destroyed an estimated P800,000 worth of damage.

On May 7, about 10 to 20 armed men also burned the backhoe and other heavy equipment as well as bunkhouse of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) at Sitio Tagbak, Barangay Tan-awan, Kabankalan City.

Two days after the incident, the Mount Cansermon Command (MCC) owned up the incident, claiming that their action was a symbol of strong opposition against the construction of the dam, a government project of NIA in the city since it affected the livelihood of the residents.

They said that the project also causes danger to the residents in the area crossing the Hilabangan River.

Military asset killed, 1 injured in ambush

From the Sun Star-Bacolod (May 11): Military asset killed, 1 injured in ambush

Police cordon the area where 66-year-old Lusan Ledama, an alleged military asset, was killed by suspected rebels at Barangay San Isidro in Toboso, Negros Occidental Thursday, May 10. (Contributed Photo/Toboso Municipal Police Station)

AN alleged intelligence asset of the Philippine Army died while his companion was seriously wounded when suspected members of Special Partisan Unit (Sparu) of the New People's Army (NPA) reportedly ambushed them at Barangay San Isidro in Toboso, Negros Occidental on Thursday morning, May 10.

Killed was Lusan Ledama, 66, while wounded was Jose Villagante, 67.

Senior Inspector Edgar Tonico of Toboso Municipal Police Station, said Ledama and his friend Villagante were riding a motorcycle bound to Escalante City when about 10 to 12 armed men blocked their way and fired at them around 8:30 a.m.

“The victims were on their way to work in the neighboring city, where Ledama worked as a farm supervisor in a hacienda, when the incident happened,” Tonico said.

Ledama succumbed to head injuries while Villagante sustained multiple injuries and was rushed to Vicente Gustilo District Hospital in Escalante City.

Aside from the 12 armed men, police believed that the area was surrounded by more than 20 others to block the responding authorities.

Police recovered from the scene empty cartridges of .45 caliber pistol, M16 rifle, .9mm caliber pistol, M14, and AK47.

Tonico said Ledama's death was probably triggered by revenge when he started to serve as an informant of the military, adding that the victim had received death threats.

According to Ledama’s family, the victim was also a former member of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (Cafgu).

Tonico said they are also looking for other possible angles but he clarified it was not election-related.

He said they have names of the perpetrators responsible for the said incident but the investigation is still ongoing.

17 BIFF, Abu Sayyaf bandits surrender

From the Philippine Star (May 11): 17 BIFF, Abu Sayyaf bandits surrender

BIFF men surrender their guns to the Army’s 33rd and 2nd Mechanized Infantry Battalions in Maguindanao yesterday in this photo provided by the 6th Infantry Division.
MAGUINDANAO, Philippines — At least 11 members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) surrendered in this province yesterday.

The BIFF men led by Sindatok Dilna surrendered through the intercession of Maj. Gen. Arnel dela Vega of the 6th Infantry Division (ID).

The surrenderees, who claimed they operated in M’lang, North Cotabato and General S.K. Pendatun, Maguindanao, said they have lost their faith in the leadership of the BIFF for ignoring the abuses of members against innocent civilians.

In Basilan, a sub-leader of the Abu Sayyaf and five of his men surrendered on Wednesday.

The bandits, led by Apan Apino, alias Mudzrin, surrendered following an operation launched by the 4th Special Forces Battalion under the Joint Task Force Basilan.They turned over five rifles, a grenade launcher and various types of ammunition.

At a debriefing, the bandits said they are tired of fighting, citing relentless military offensives against the Abu Sayyaf.

Brig. Gen. Juvymax Uy, Joint Task Force Basilan commander, said the military has earned the support of civilians victimized by the bandits.

“We are giving (the Abu Sayyaf) the option... Reconsider peace by surrendering while the door is still open,” Uy said.