Monday, May 21, 2018

Abu Sayyaf releases one more captive in Sulu

From GMA News (May 21): Abu Sayyaf releases one more captive in Sulu

Another kidnap victim who was in captivity for more than three months was released by the Abu Sayyaf group on Monday in Jolo, Sulu.

Brigadier General Cirilito Sobejana, commander of Joint Task Force Sulu, said the victim was released around 8 a.m.. in Barangay Latih in Patikul due to his "health problems."

Sobejana identified the victim as Engineer Enrico Nee, an employee of the Department of Public Works and Highways District 1, who was abducted last February 14 in Kasalamatan Village, Barangay San Raymundo in Jolo while on his way to work.

He said that the victim may have been freed due to the pressure of combat military operations.

The military said that Nee had recalled that he was cornered by seven heavily armed men who were on board a Tamaraw jeep. He was then brought to a mountainous part of Patikul where more Abu Sayyaf bandits were waiting.

The victim, according to the military, also said that the bandits may have released him due to his health condition which delays their movement.

Nee is currently under the custody of Joint Task Force Sulu and undergoing medical examination and debriefing.

The Abu Sayyaf recently released four people, including two policewomen.

Sobejana said the group still has at least nine captives including a Dutch, three Indonesians, a Vietnamese and four Filipinos.

"Mataas yung aking expectation na all other victims will be released," he said.

Brawner: A big portion of Marawi is back to normal almost a year after siege

From the Manila Bulletin (May 20): Brawner: A big portion of Marawi is back to normal almost a year after siege

The spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Joint Task Force (AFP-JTF) Ranao today said that a big portion of Marawi has returned to normalcy almost one year since members of the Maute Group terrorize the city.


In an interview over radio station dzBB, Col. Romeo Brawner said that almost all areas in the city have already been accessed by civilians except the 24 barangays which is considered the most affected areas or ground zero.

“Right now the situation here in Marawi is peaceful and we have lots of kababayans who have already returned to their homes. We can say that a big portion of Marawi is back to normal,” Brawner said in Filipino.

Brawner said they are still not allowing civilians to return to their homes in the 24 barangays which are part of ground zero due to the possible presence of unexploded ordnance or bombs.

However, residents were allowed to enter their barangays from April 1 to May 10, 2018 to salvage some of the belongings which they can still use.

“We allowed them (residents) per barangay three days to salvage some of their belongings. This started on April 1 up to May 10 and we can say that almost all residents have seen their homes and now we are again closing the most affected areas so that the clearing operations of unexploded bombs can continue,” Brawner said.

Brawner said that as of latest reports they received from their engineers, about 85 percent of unexploded bombs have already been recovered.

“According to our engineers, about 85 percent of the affected areas have been cleared from the bombs that were dropped by our planes that did not explode,” Brawner said.

“There are still many to be retrieved, there are about 70 bombs dropped that did not explode and so far we only recovered 19 of them. So there are still many yet to be found,” he added.

Brawner said members of the AFP ‘s Engineering Brigade and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Unit are tasked to find it.

AFP Chief of Staff General Carlito Galvez earlier said the full rehabilitation of Marawi City which was devastated by war last year will be in full swing on June 15, 2018.

Galvez said he recently went to the war-torn city to prepare the commanders for its
rehabilitation and to ensure that the projects there will not be impeded.

“We have to make sure that the rehabilitation will be unimpeded, it will be safe, and our contractors will not be hampered by any threat of kidnapping or any aggressions from the Maute-ISIS,” Galvez said.

“That’s why we will be conducting some brainstorming with my commanders so that we will reactivate or we will reorganize our forces in order to support 100-percent the Task Force Bangon Marawi,” he added.

Galvez added that he believes the rehabilitation of the city will be very successful based on the plans which he personally saw and discussions he made with Secretary Eduardo Del Rosario of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council who currently chairs the inter-agency Task Force for the Recovery, Reconstruction, and Rehabilitation of Marawi City.

“I’ve been there in Marawi and spoke regularly with Secretary Del Rosario. He said to me that they already conducted consultations and based on his statement the consultations have been favorable. If you will see the plans, [it’s] very beautiful,” he added.

Galvez said that insofar as he is concerned, the task force has programs lined up from May 17 to 23 to commemorate the first anniversary of the Marawi siege which left more than 1,000 people -Maute/Abu Sayyaf terrorists, soldiers and civilians- dead.

Galvez also said that in continuation of peace-building and recovery efforts, Task Force Bangon Marawi is currently holding Marawi Week of Peace from May 17 to 23, 2018 in Marawi City under the theme “Peace Starts with US: Give, Work, Share.”

Galvez said according to TFBM, the collaborative activities are geared to strengthen social cohesion between government and the people of Marawi by delivering socioeconomic support, spiritual development promotion, and continuous citizen engagement.

In partnership with the governments of Marawi City and Lanao del Sur, the ARMM, national and regional line agencies, military and police, the task force will simultaneously roll out an information campaign on the MAA Rehabilitation Plan and the Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Program to increase awareness and secure local support for TFBM’s ongoing recovery and rehabilitation efforts.

The siege, which lasted for five months, damaged billions of pesos worth of properties in the area.

The Duterte administation, it was recalled, has allocated billions of pesos to rehabilitate the war-torn city.

The total cost of the massive rehabilitation of Marawi and nearby areas is estimated at P72 billion.

Of the cost, the government estimates P17.2 billion will cover the development of the most affected area in Marawi City involving 24 barangays.

Around P55 billion will be used for the rehabilitation of the rest of the city and nearby towns destroyed by the five months of terror siege. Fund sources included government funds, private donations and official development assistance.

During what seemed like a normal afternoon in Marawi City on May 23, 2017, a firefight erupted between the military and an undetermined number of men, later identifying themselves as the Maute group.

The crossfire resulted in thousands of Maranaos fleeing to relatives, friends or evacuation centers in nearby areas. The chaos and destruction caused by these terrorists prompted President Duterte to declare martial law in Mindanao, and to create a body that would help Marawi rise again when the war is over.

Thus, the Duterte administration issued Administrative Order 3, and Task Force Bangon Marawi was born. It is composed of various government agencies working together toward the recovery, reconstruction and rehabilitation of the conflict-stricken city.

The interagency Task Force for the Recovery, Reconstruction, and Rehabilitation of Marawi City is headed by chairperson Eduardo Del Rosario from Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council with the assistance of Office of Civil Defense as the Secretariat.

TFBM is composed of different subcommittees and support groups to ensure that all concerns related to the city’s development process are appropriately addressed. All the subcommittees are working in close partnership with the local governments of ARMM, Lanao del Sur and Marawi.

Duterte pivots to China but his military turns to Australia, Japan

From Rappler (May 20): Duterte pivots to China but his military turns to Australia, Japan

'I think the Philippines has not entirely bowed down in the face of China. The political relationship clearly has been changed under President Duterte, but it’s more complicated than that,' says security analyst Euan Graham of the Australian think tank Lowy Institute

ENEMIES-TURNED-ALLIES. A P-1 patrol aircraft of the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force and a Beechcraft C-90 of the Philippine Navy fly over the West Philippine Sea for Exercise Balikatan 2018. Photo courtesy of JMSDF

ENEMIES-TURNED-ALLIES. A P-1 patrol aircraft of the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force and a Beechcraft C-90 of the Philippine Navy fly over the West Philippine Sea for Exercise Balikatan 2018. Photo courtesy of JMSDF

Philippine defense cooperation with Australia and Japan stepped up in recent years, continuing to grow under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Euan Graham, director of the international security program of Australian think tank Lowy Institute, said these ties should be taken into account when understanding the country's relations with China.

"I think the Philippines has not entirely bowed down in the face of China. The political relationship clearly has been changed under President Duterte, but it's more complicated than that," Graham told Rappler.

Jose Antonio Custodio, military analyst and historian, said ties with Australia have focused on counter-terrorism and containment of violent extremism, while ties with Japan have focused on the South China Sea situation.

At the start of his administration, Duterte threatened to scrap defense treaties with the US in favor of closer ties with China and perhaps Russia.

But alliances among militaries – especially one as longstanding as the Philippines and the US – cannot be broken or built overnight. It takes years or decades to synchronize tactics, techniques, and procedures to achieve interoperability.

Duterte's pivot to China won't be easy for Americanized PH military

Custodio said there have been "cosmetic" but no significant changes in the country's ties with the US military. Cooperation during the siege of Marawi put this on display.

Meanwhile, Duterte is facing criticism over his friendship with China. This comes in the wake of reports that the military superpower has installed missiles on a Philippine reef it occupied in 1994 and landed a bomber on the nearby Paracel Islands, which it seized from Vietnam in 1974.

'Acceptable partners'
AUSTRALIA. The Australian Defense Force has 60 personnel participating in Exercise Balikatan 2018. Photo by Carmela Fonbuena/Rappler
AUSTRALIA. The Australian Defense Force has 60 personnel participating in Exercise Balikatan 2018. Photo by Carmela Fonbuena/Rappler

Graham said Australia and Japan both appear to be "acceptable security and defense partners" to Duterte, allowing the two countries to fill the political vacuum between Manila and Washington. (READ: Duterte tours Japan's biggest warship)

Unlike China and Russia, Australia and Japan have a headway in building military-to-military ties with the Philippines.

Australia is the only country other than the US that has a visiting forces agreement with the Philippines, a treaty that came to force in 2012.

Japan, the country's biggest source of Official Development Assistance, has also shown the capability "to provide a generous materiel largesse for the military," said Custodio.

Talks for a visiting forces agreement with Japan began in the previous Aquino administration, which Custodio said, will "likely" continue to be discussed.

Meanwhile, China is trying to build ties with the Philippine military. "The best way for the AFP to make itself a laughingstock of the Filipino people is to engage in an effort to develop strong military-to-military ties with China," said Custodio. (READ: PH plans for Pag-asa to test Duterte's friendship with China)

Exercise Balikatan: Nueva Ecija and Palawan

JAPAN. The Japan Maritime Self Defense Force has 20 personnel participating in Exercise Balikatan 2018. Photo by Carmela Fonbuena/Rappler
JAPAN. The Japan Maritime Self Defense Force has 20 personnel participating in Exercise Balikatan 2018. Photo by Carmela Fonbuena/Rappler

The annual Exercise Balikatan between the Philippine and US militaries played a key role in increasing the country’s security ties with Australia and Japan.

This year, the Australian Defense Force (ADF) had a P-3 Orion surveillance aircraft and 60 personnel – most airmen – participate in the war games. The Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) had a P-1 patrol aircraft and 20 personnel, also mostly air men.

They are among 8,000 forces, including 3,000 Americans, participating in war games aimed at improving the interoperability of the allied militaries.

The number of Australian and Japanese troops participating in the war games was small but their activities were significant – surveillance and patrol from aircraft – and consistent with their focus areas.

From May 16-17, ADF’s P-3 Orion surveillance aircraft flew over Nueva Ecija to simulate urban fighting with its Philippine and US counterparts. Its job was to provide real time intelligence – coordinations and movements – of enemies.

"It is similar to the role performed by the aircraft during the Marawi crisis," Captain Brad White, Australian defense attache to the Philippines, told Rappler. The ADF flew two P-3 Orion aircraft to help out during the siege.

Vice Admiral David Johnston, ADF chief of joint operations, said Australia's participation in Exercise Balikatan shows its commitment to regional security and stability. It's the 5th year Australia is joining the exercise.

"Exercise Balikatan 18 is a valuable opportunity for participating nations to prepare for real world challenges," Johnston said.

Earlier, on May 8, a JMSDF P-1 patrol aircraft flew off the coast of Palawan together with Beechcraft C-90 planes that Japan leased to the Philippine Navy.

A photo showed the planes flying above an unnamed island in the West Philippine Sea. Another photo showed Japanese and Filipinos standing shoulder-to-shoulder on the tarmac of Antonio Bautista Air Base in Palawan.

The activity in the West Philippine Sea, where Duterte scrapped joint patrols with the US to please China, was not lost on security observers.

"They were operating off Palawan so there is maybe an increasing leeway for those kinds of exercises," said Graham.

Fighting ISIS together

Australia's visiting forces agreement with the Philippines means it can't have a base in the country but it can have a rotating troops presence.

The relationship matured significantly during the 5-month long battles. After the war, they agreed to conduct a training program on urban fighting that is exclusive between the two militaries.

While Balikatan is ongoing, another group of 70 Australian forces are preparing for a 4-week exercise to train Philippine Army troopers in urban fighting. It's similar to what the Americans provide Filipino ground troops in Balikatan.

"Each rotation is about 4 weeks long. Bunch of training is delivered then consultation with AFP. New target audience where that goes. We move where the Philippine army wants us to move to deliver that training," said White.

It is mutually beneficial. "For Australia, there is a genuine interest in preventing foreign fighters coming from the Middle East from establishing themselves closer to Australia or maybe attacking Australian citizens or interest in the region," said Graham.

On top of the exercises, the ADF is also helping the Philippines patrol the waters of southern Philippines, part of the campaign against local terrorist groups operating in the islands of Mindanao.

"We've got significant engagement with the Philippines. Since Marawi, we've actually increased our engagement," said White.

Japan relaxes weapons rule

When Japan lifted its weapons export ban, it signalled to the world its growing security role in the region. The ban was a self-imposed policy it adopted when it took a pacifist mindset after World War II.

The Philippines is the first beneficiary. Japan transfered 5 TC-90 patrol planes to the Philippine Navy to enable the country to better establish its presence in its maritime territories.

Small planes for PH Navy signal Japan's growing security role

This was the same plane the Philippine Navy flew during the Balikatan exercise in the West Philippine Sea.

The TC-90s are faster and have longer range than the Islander aircraft the Navy has been using.

CPP-Information Bureau: Duterte “Noynoying” over US and China saber-rattling

CPP-Information Bureau propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (May 21): Duterte “Noynoying” over US and China saber-rattling

Information Bureau
Communist Party of the Philippines

21 May 2018
Press Release

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) condemns the Duterte regime for publicly acting indifferent amid the intensified saber-rattling of the US and China which raises military tensions and increases possibility of dragging the Philippines into the middle of superpower armed conflict.

Duterte is guilty of at least two counts of “Noynoying” recently which amounted to outright acts of surrendering Philippine national sovereignty. First, he allowed at least 3,000 US soldiers, warships, jetfighters, drones and other military equipment to conduct war games in Philippine territory in the recent US-RP Balikatan exercises in direct violation and contempt of Philippine sovereignty. In the name of “interoperability”, the US military makes use of the AFP as pawns in US strategy of building and projecting military strength in the South China Sea to control the trade routes and encircle China. Fearing the US will stop providing military aid to his Oplan Kapayapaan and martial law campaign of suppression, Duterte has made no moves to end the unequal military treaties with the US including the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT), the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) which all give the US military extra-territorial rights, allow it to maintain permanent military presence in the country, intervene in local domestic affairs and make use of the Philippines as a military foothold to mount acts of aggression in Asia and other regions.

Meanwhile, Duterte has refused to raise even a whimper against China’s deployment of H-6K bomber planes which conducted exercises and simulated strikes in the airspace in and around the Spratly Islands. This is his second recent act of “Noynoying.” He has turned a blind eye to China’s outright incursions in Philippine territories claiming fears of “inviting trouble”. He has allowed China to trample on Philippine national sovereignty by his failure to act against China’s construction of runways, hangars, ports and other military facilities in areas within Philippine territorial waters. He is mortally afraid of losing all the billions of dollars of promised China investments in the country which he uses to bribe corrupt politicians and government officials to ensure their loyalty.

The CPP reiterates its protests against US and China saber-rattling and militarization over the South China Sea and the Philippines. Defense of Philippine national sovereignty entails that the Filipino people demand an end to US military presence in the country and a stop to Chinese military build-up in the South China Sea and waters within the Philippine exclusive economic zone.
The CPP denounces the hypocrisy of the US government over the statement by the US State Department criticizing China for “continued militarization” of the South China Sea. The US imperialists, are in fact, at least equally liable if not more guilty for militarizing the South China Sea where it has continuously deployed its armada of aircraft carriers and littoral ships, where it flies military drones non-stop and so on.

Without actually defending and promoting Philippine national sovereignty, Duterte’s declarations of an “independent foreign policy” are mere rhetoric. The Filipino people demand a genuine independent foreign policy which calls for actively asserting peaceful co-existence and non-alignment—from China or the US. On the one hand, the Filipino people call for the dismantling of all military structures erected by China in the Spratly Islands.

More importantly, the Filipino people demand an end to all military treaties with the US, for all US military troops and advisers to leave the country and for all US military facilities to be dismantled. As long as the US military enjoys extra-territorial rights in the country, the Philippines cannot claim non-alignment. The presence of US military forces in the Philippines serve as magnet that continuously attracts attacks by US adversaries and drags the country to US imperialist conflicts.

NDF/NPA-NCMR: BHB-NCMR Responds to Sabotage of the Resumption of the GRP-NDFP Talks with Military Actions

NPA-NCMR propaganda statement posted to the National Democratic Front Website (May 17): BHB-NCMR Responds to Sabotage of the Resumption of the GRP-NDFP Talks with Military Actions

May 17, 2018
Press Statement

An NPA force under the Western Agusan del Norte – Agusan del Sur (WANAS) Subregional Command harassed last May 15 the troops of the Philippine National Police – Regional Public Safety Battalion PNP-RPSB in launching combat operations in the mountainous part of Sitio Lamusig, Brgy. Tungao, Butuan City. A police official was reported to have been wounded. This incident was followed by an NPA attack of a police station in Brgy. San Mateo of the same city. Five PNP personnel were confirmed killed and other PNP casualties await to be reported.

At 3:23 o’clock in the morning on May 14, a unit under NPA-WANAS attacked a CAFGU detachment in Brgy. Sinakungan, Esperanza, Agusan del Sur. The siege lasted for several hours but to no avail. NPA-WANAS operatives confirmed the martyrhood of two Red fighters namely, Ka Bagani and Ka Marjon. The NPA-NCMR thus offers the highest honors in salute to the fallen comrades.

For three days on May 7, 8, and 10, the NPA-South Central Bukidnon Subregional Command has launched counter-attacks against a unit of chopper-dropped Scout Rangers (SR) on combat operations into the town boundary betweem Cabanglasan and San Fernando in Bukidnon. Four Rangers succumbed as KIA during the said operation. Instead of “facilitating in the barangay polls” as part of the mandate of the regime’s armed forces, they turn out to be sustaining also their operations against the revolutionary movement.

Since January of this year, the AFP and PNP have intensified their operations wherein 20 incidents of armed clashes occurred between the NPA and the US-Duterte government-backed troopers. As part of the active defense on its guerilla bases, the NPA-NCMR has suffered a total of 7 killed-in-action (KIA), scores of wounded-in-action (WIA) and two caught as hors-de-combat. On the other hand, the AFP and the PNP had 15 of them killed and scores also were their wounded casualties.

The NPA-NCMR condemns the US-Rodrigo Duterte regime its loyal minions in the AFP, PNP and other state-directed armed elements for launching a sustained military operations in the region, even during the barrio polls and during traditional or religious activities of the populace. Let it be remembered that they, during the Holy Week, attacked and bombed with howitzers the mountainous communities of Bukidnon ug Misamis Oriental.

Yet despite the sustained attacks the reactionary troops have wreaked upon the region, the NPA-NCMR is still affirms its support to the initiatives of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) regarding the resumption of the peace negotiations and the possible interim ceasefire declaration possibly by June. In this light, the NPA in general is showing sincerity and deference in abiding the agreements hereby forged as the GRP-NDFP resumes their negotiations.

The NPA-NCMR is ever ready as the state intensifies its attacks against the revolutionary movement and the people. It strengthens the revolutionary ranks, be it with their military or political tasks at hand, in order to foil any scheme that the state plots against the people’s interests here in the region.

Ka Malem Mabini

MILF: TPMT to hold Consultations with CSO leaders

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (May 21): TPMT to hold Consultations with CSO leaders

In pursuit of its mandate to monitor the implementation of all Government of the Philippines (GPH) – Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed agreements, the Third Party Monitoring Team (TPMT) is convening in the Philippines from May 14 to 22, 2018. During this period, the TPMT will be holding consultations with peace process partners and stakeholders in Metro Manila, and Cotabato City.

In line with this mandate, the TPMT will be holding series of consultations with civil society leaders to listen to their views and concerns on recent developments in the Bangsamoro peace process as well as their plans and possible next steps to continue supporting the process.

Being a member of the said monitoring body, the Gaston Z. Ortigas Peace Institute (GZOPI), with support from the European Union and Nonviolent Peace Force, will also be facilitating a Civil Society Organization (CSO) Action-Planning Session to provide space for civil society leaders, such as (1) to get an update on the status of the Bangsamoro peace process, particularly the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL); (2) to discuss amongst themselves key issues and concerns related to the peace process; and (3) to jointly develop a plan of action for civil society organizations to push for the passage of the BBL in Congress, and to prepare for the plebiscite and the transition process.

Thus the GZOPI-facilitated CSO Action-Planning Session and the TPMT will hold consultation on May 21 to 22, 2018 in Quezon City. Those invited CSO leaders includes Abdulbasit R. Benito, Public Information Officer of the League of Bangsamoro Organizations (LBO), Mindanao Action for peace and Development (MAPAD), United Youth for Peace and Development (UNYPAD), Maradeca Inc. and others. These CSO leaders shall also have opportunities to hold their own network meetings and take part in BBL lobbying activities in Congress.

Chaired by former European Union Ambassador Alistair MacDonald, the TPMT, formally established in 2013 as part of the peace process between the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The task of the TPMT is to observe and report on the implementation of all signed agreements, particularly the October 2012 Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro and its four annexes.

DWDD: COMMUNITY EFFORT | 13 NPA’s Militia ng Bayan surrenders to 75IB

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (May 21): COMMUNITY EFFORT  |  13 NPA’s Militia ng Bayan surrenders to 75IB

CAMP JAIME N FERRER SR., Brgy. Maharlika, Bislig City (DWDD) Thirteen (13) members of Militia Ng Bayan voluntarily surrendered to the joint effort of Community Support Team (CST) of Charlie Company and Intelligence Operatives of Army’s 75th Infantry “Marauder” Battalion (75IB) at Purok 13, Sitio Sta Monica (Rock Island) Brgy. Bunawan Brook, Bunawan, Agusan Del Sur last May 19, 2018.


According to 1Lt Michael Pascua, 75th Infantry Battalion CMO officer, the NPA Terrorists were identified as Anicita Tamayo Also Known As Mona, Randy Bragas AKA Hero, Supronio Legaspo AKA Pintal, Nasihasino Saure AKA Martine, Dessy Generosa AKA Remart, Marjun Auxillo AKA Itoy, Heldo Legaspo AKA Jayboy, Carlita Bragas, AKA Berna, Roberto Sardido Jr AKA Dodong, Jackson Colinar AKA Rowen, Edgardo Bragas AKA Edwin, Angelita Vilyota AKA Angel, and Ranilo Detchos AKA Reb.

The burdens and sufferings they’re experiencing with the unceasing military operations conducted by this unit made up their minds to submit oneself to the folds of law. Moreover, since the implementation of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP) – one of the plans and programs of the government through the continuous effort of the CST in conducting wide-spread information and dissemination with the collaboration of the Local Government Units (LGUs) and Local Government Agencies (LGAs) the series of surrender was a success in the area.

Lieutenant Colonel Jaime R Datuin, Commanding Officer of 75IB warmly welcomed the members of MBs of their willingness to put an end on these insignificant threats and be partners of the government in maintaining the peace and order in the area.

“I am encouraging the remaining members of the CPP-NPA-Terrorist groups and other mass sympathizers to be enlightened and knew the lies and ways of deceptions of the NPA propaganda and heed to the governments call for peace. Our Marauder troopers will do our part to the best of our ability to support you through the Enhanced Comprehensive Integration Program of the government.” Datuin ended.

Likewise, Colonel Andres C Centilo, 401st Infantry Brigade Commander applauded the Community Support Team for the notable deeds.

“May this recent surrender of 13 members of NPA’s Militia ng Bayan to the government will serve as an example to the remaining NPA members especially the Guerrilla Front Committee 14 and GFC19 to suit in order to live in peace with their families and support the peace and development of the government which surely give your love-ones a better future,” Col Centino ended. 75IB / MCAG

DWDD: SEEKING PEACE | NPA surrenders to 30IB in Surigao Del Norte

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (May 21): SEEKING PEACE  |  NPA surrenders to 30IB in Surigao Del Norte

PLACER, Surigao del Norte (DWDD) A member of the Communist Party of the Philippines – New Peoples Army terrorist (CNT) voluntarily surrendered to 30th Infantry Battalion (30IB) on May 19 2018 at Headquarters 30IB, Barangay Sta Cruz, Placer, Surigao del Norte.

The surrenderee was identified as Jesson Platil Sumalinog also known as (AKA) Bong or Hyson, 24 y/o male, a resident of Sitio Brazil, Barangay Mat-I, Surigao City, Surigao del Norte. He brought along his AK47 rifle with three (3) magazines loaded with eighty one (81) ammunition.

Sumalinog is a member of Guerilla Front Committee 16B (GFC16B), North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee, operating in the municipalities of San Francisco, Malimono, Mainit and Surigao City, all of Surigao del Norte.

“Perti kalisud akong nasinatian sa kalihukan. Ang kagutom ug kagustuhan makauban akong pamilya ang raspn nga nisurrender ko. (I can no longer take the hardship I had experienced in the life of being a member of the NPA. The hunger and desire to be with my family are the reasons why I decided to surrender)” Sumalinog said.

Sumalinog disclosed that he had conversations with some of the wounded NPA members involved during the encounter at Barangay Can-aga, Malimono last May 5. He further revealed that several NPA members are having second thoughts in continuing the armed struggle because of same difficulties they have been experiencing.

Lieutenant Colonel Allen Raymund Tomas, Commanding Officer of 30IB call on the leadership of the GFC16B to give medical attention to their wounded comrades from the encounter last May 5.
“Wounded NPAs have a right to be treated in a proper medical facility. Leadership of Guerilla Front 16B should not let their wounded comrades be treated with their self-trained medical person in the mountains.” Tomas said.

Government’s Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP) states a former rebel can avail of the P15,000 immediate cash assistance and P50,000 livelihood assistance when they surrender. In addition, the surrendered firearms has equivalent amount of money depending on the serviceability and caliber of the firearm.

“To all active NPA members, I know that you want to go back to your families and live a normal life, it is not too late to abandon the CPP-NPA’s failed ideology. We will be assisting you in your application to the CLIP for you to start a life with your family.” Major General Ronald Villanueva, Commander of 4th Infantry Division said. 75IB / 4DPAO / MCAG

DWDD: RECRUITMENT | PN needs new Sailors

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (May 21): RECRUITMENT  |  PN needs new Sailors

MANILA (DWDD) Our Philippine Navy is in need of 1,170 Sailors and 970 marines enlisted personnel for CY 2018. Posted are the qualifications and requirements as well as the benefits of joining our navy.


For sailors, our navy is need of technical experts particularly those mechatronics and instrumentation and control and other technical skills. (Height requirement for marines is 5’4″)

On the other hand, our navy is in need of 120 Officers both for the marines and sailors. We are in need of engineers and other technical courses graduates who can fill up the organizations manning requirements. So what are you waiting for. JOIN NAVY NOW!

Just bring your PSA Birth Certificate, Transcript of Records, Diploma (for officers) TESDA NCII/K-12 Graduate Certificate (For Enlisted Personnel), One Valid ID and two 2×2 picture with white background and submit to PN Recruit Testing and Holding Office, Bonifacio Naval Station, Fort Andres Bonifacio Taguig City (near gate 3) from Monday to Wednesday. You may download the uploaded application form and fill up and print then you may submit it to RTHO. Thank You and God bless!

Schedule of examinations at Naval Forces will be announced later. Thank you. PN Recruitment / MCAG

DWDD: RECOVERED | 5ID discovers CNT Arms Cache, PNP Uniforms in Quirino

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (May 21): RECOVERED  |  5ID discovers CNT Arms Cache, PNP Uniforms in Quirino

CAMP MELCHOR F DELA CRUZ, Upi, Gamu, Isabela (DWDD) – Eight high powered firearms and 15 pairs of Police uniforms were among the contents of the discovered CNT arms cache through the joint efforts of the 5th Infantry Division, Joint Task Force – National Capital Region (JTF-NCR) and Cagayan Valley Police Regional Office at SitioCalvo, BrgyDimasungal, Nagtipunan, Quirino on May 19, 2018.

The contents of the arms cache were composed of two M14 Rifles, four M16 Rifles, one M653 “Baby Armalite” Rifle, one upper receiver of an M16 Rifle, various ammunition, 15 sets of Police uniforms and 14 pairs of combat boots.

According to BGen Bartolome Vicente O Bacarro, Commander, 502nd Infantry Brigade, the said arms cache was hidden by the members of the Communist NPA Terrorist (CNT) belonging to the KilusangLarangangGuerillaQuirino-Nueva Vizcaya.

In a separate incident, the troops under 86th Infantry Battalion while conducting security patrol at So PulangLupa, of same Brgy, discovered an enemy encampment and while scouring the area, the troops were fired upon by an undetermined number of CNT who withdrew after a 5-minute exchange of gun fight.No casualty was recorded on the government side while still undetermined on the side of the enemy.

Meanwhile, MGen Perfecto M RimandoJr, Commander, 5th Infantry Division commended the operating troops for the successful recovery of the CNT arms cache. “We are ascertained that with the discovery of the firearms, ammunition and police uniforms, we have prevented the evil plans of the CNTs against the people, local officials and to our police and soldiers in Quirino and neighboring provinces. With that, I commend the men behind the success of this operation.” MGen Rimando Jr said.

MGen Rimando Jr also praised the support of the local leaders and the community by saying, “The information about the location of the CNT arms cache was made possible through the information provided by the community. This is the result of our active engagement with the local officials, community and tribal elders in the area. The local officials and the community are also behind the more than 70 CNT members who surrendered to this Command this 1st quarter of the year.” 5DPAO / MCAG

DWDD: PRESENTED | AFP presents rebel returnees that led to discovery of arms cache in Quirino

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (May 21): PRESENTED  | AFP presents rebel returnees that led to discovery of arms cache in Quirino

CAMP GEN EMILIO AGUINALDO, Quezon City (DWDD) The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) presented three (3) rebel returnees who returned to the folds of the law last May 16, 2018 at Camp Gen Emilio Aguinaldo, Quezon City.


BGen Alan Arrojado, Commander – Joint Task Force NCR, led the Signing and the Oath of Allegiance of the former rebels namely: Rene Intaligando Bernil alias Kim; Ordnance/IED laying, F2, SRC2, SCG; Joel Salva Capilitan alias Jelly, CO, MB, Bager2, F2, SRC2; and Edmar Miranda Jiminez alias Dodong, SL, SRDG2; all from Pantukan, Compostela Valley, last May 16..

The surrenderees led authorities to the recovery of eight (8) high powered firearms composed of two M14 Rifles, four M16 Rifles, one M653 “Baby Armalite” Rifle, one upper receiver of an M16 Rifle, various ammunitions, 15 sets of Police uniforms and 14 pairs of combat boots through the joint efforts of the 5th Infantry “Star” Division, JTF-NCR and Cagayan Valley Police Regional Office at Sitio Calvo, Brgy Dimasungal, Nagtipunan, Quirino on May 19, 2018.

According to BGen Bartolome Vicente O Bacarro, Commander, 502nd Infantry Brigade, the said arms cache was hidden by the members of the Communist NPA Terrorist (CNT) belonging to the Kilusang Larangang Guerilla Quirino-Nueva Vizcaya. AES / MCAG


DWDD: DONNING OF RANK | Major General Bienvenido Datuin

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (May 21): DONNING OF RANK  |  Major General Bienvenido Datuin



AES / Photos by Emil Palon, Melinda Valena and Jeos Dino

Two Abu Sayyaf bandits fall

From Malaya Business Insight (May 21): Two Abu Sayyaf bandits fall

GOVERNMENT security forces have captured two Abu Sayyaf bandits in separate operations in Zamboanga City and Sulu on Saturday.

Chief Insp. Helen Galvez, spokesman of the Western Mindanao Police Regional Office, identified one of the bandits arrested in a house in Purok 1B, Barangay Recondo as Hadji Gahis, a resident of Sumisip, Basilan, who was under the leadership of killed terrorist leader Isnilon Hapilon.

Galvez said Gahis was arrested based on a warrant of arrest issued by Judge Leo Principe of the Regional Trial Court Branch 9 for kidnapping and serious illegal detention in connection with the Golden Harvest Plantation kidnapping in 2001.

Hapilon forged an alliance with the Maute terrorist group in the May 2017 attack in Marawi City that prompted President Duterte to declare martial law in the entire Mindanao region which will be in effect until December 31.

In Sulu, combined police operatives arrested another ASG bandit in Serrantes street, Barangay Walled City in Jolo town on Saturday night.

Chief Supt. Graciano Mijares, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao police regional chief, identified the suspect as Hashim Abtaib aka Abu Imam. Police said Abtaib was involved in the spate of kidnappings by the bandit group.

Former rebel snitches on hidden rifle cache

From the Mindanao Times (May 21): Former rebel snitches on hidden rifle cache

Three AK-47 rifles were recovered by troops of the 73rd Infantry Battalion at the vicinity of Sitio Mahayag, Barangay Upper Suyan, Malapatan, Sarangani Province on Friday, May 18.

Capt. Jerry Lamosao, spokesperson of 10th Infantry Division, said the recovered three rifles were believed to be properties of
Platoon North, Guerrilla Front 71 of the Far South Mindanao Region. Lamosao said a former rebel, alias Lakay, pointed to the location of the hidden rifles. Lakay surrendered to the 73rd ID on May 15, and he also brought along his M16 rifle.

“With our intensive security operations and continuous collaboration with our barangay officials, we can gear our efforts toward the attainment of peace in our communities,” Lt. Col. Marion Ancao, 73rd IB commander, said.

Surrenderees will be enrolled in the Comprehensive Local Integration Program and provided livelihood assistance. They will also receive cash for every gun they surrender.

“For those NPAs who are still hiding right now, it is your chance to surrender peacefully. Bring down your firearms and avail of the government programs intended for you. You deserve to live happily with your family,” Brig. Gen. Roberto Ancan, 1002nd Infantry Brigade commander, said.

Maj. Gen. Noel S Clement, commander of the 10th ID, said, “We encourage our brothers in the NPA to avail of the government’s CLIP program and find peaceful solutions to their problems and not through violence and armed struggle.”

Abu Sayyaf frees another hostage in Sulu

From the Mindanao Examiner (May 21): Abu Sayyaf frees another hostage in Sulu

Abu Sayyaf rebels freed Monday one of its hostages in the southern Philippine province of Sulu, but security officials declined to provide information on the release of the captive for a still unknown reason.

The freed hostage was taken to a military base and currently undergoing an interview by security officials. The Western Mindanao Command also did not release any information and officials have been silent for the past weeks.

The Abu Sayyaf, whose leaders pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, is still holding at least 9 hostages, including three Indonesian sailors and a Vietnamese seaman, a Dutchman and four Filipinos.

Two policewomen Bennie Rose Alvarez and Dinah Gumahad were also released on May 16 barely three weeks after rebels seized them in Patikul town on April 29 along with two other civilians Jakosalem Blas and Faizal Ahidji who had been earlier freed.

Philippine police chief Oscar Albayalde flew last week to Sulu province and fetched the officers and presented them to President Rodrigo Duterte..

Albayalde thanked Sulu Governor Totoh Tan for his assistance in the safe release of the officers. The release of the officers came days after Albayalde sought Tan’s help in recovering Alvarez and Gumahad.

Former rebel chieftain Nur Misuari of the Moro National Liberation Front was also present during the handover, but it was unclear whether he took part or directly involved in the negotiations with the Abu Sayyaf for the release of the hostages. The Abu Sayyaf had demanded P5 million in exchange for the officers. It was unknown whether ransom had been paid for the freedom of the police officers.

The officers are assigned with the the crime laboratory and engineering department and were vacationing in Sulu when rebels kidnapped them near a military base. They were travelling on a motorcycle taxi when about a dozen gunmen flagged down their vehicle in Liang village in Patikul town and took them away. Police have identified the gang’s leader as Mujir Yada.

Sulu fighting leaves 12 casualties

From the Mindanao Examiner (May 21): Sulu fighting leaves 12 casualties

Police and military have tightened security in Sulu’s Maimbung town following a deadly clash between two warring groups that left at least a dozen casualties.

Military reports said the fighting erupted late last week between the groups of Mudjasan Pando, the town’s vice mayor; and Imal Matarol in Bualo Lipid. Two people were slain and at least 3 more wounded from both sides, but 7 civilians had been injured in the clashes between the two groups.

It said those killed and wounded on Pando’s side were mostly former Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels. It was unclear whether the MNLF members were working for Pando or not.

Other MNLF members in the village were ordered to leave the area and settled in Indanan town. The military did not say what triggered the fighting or whether it was political or not.

6 more housing projects for soldiers, cops this year: NHA

From the Philippine News Agency (May 21): 6 more housing projects for soldiers, cops this year: NHA

HOUSING PROGRAM. President Rodrigo R. Duterte is assisted by Secretary Bong Go of the Office of the Special Assistant to the President, Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council Chair Eduardo del Rosario and National Housing Authority General Manager Marcelino Escalada Jr. as he leads the groundbreaking ceremony of the Vista Alegre Homes at Brgy. Dos Hermanas in Talisay City, Negros Occidental on May 20, 2018. The Vista Alegre Homes is part of the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Philippine National Police (AFP-PNP) Housing Program. (Arcel Valderrama/Presidential Photo)

TALISAY CITY, Negros Occidental -- The National Housing Authority (NHA) is planning to hold the groundbreaking for six more housing projects under The New Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)/Phillippine National Police (PNP) Housing Program this 2018.

National Housing Authority (NHA) General Manager Marcelino Escalada Jr. said the target is to start the construction of 9,000 to 9,500 housing units within the year.

Escalada was here on Sunday for the launching of the 1,000-unit Vista Alegre Homes worth PHP1 billion in Barangay Dos Hermanas led by President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

The Talisay City site, seen to be completed by March next year, is the fifth being developed by the NHA under The New AFP/PNP Housing Program.

The first project, the Madayaw Residences in Barangay Talomo, Davao City, has 640 units, while the second, the Scout Range Ville in Barangays Calumpang and Tartaro-Sibul, San Miguel, Bulacan, has 1,000 units.

The building/housing construction of both projects are in progress.

In Barangay Maria Cristina, Bal-oi, Lanao del Norte, the land development for Christine Villas, which also hosts 1,000 units, is in progress.

The fourth project is the Casa San Miguel in Barangay San Agustin, Concepcion, Tarlac City, where survey works and clearing are ongoing.

Scheduled for groundbreaking this year are the Cabaluay Place in Barangay Cabaluay, Zamboanga City, 925 units; Lantaw Homes in Barangay Tugbok, Davao City, 1,000 units; and Loakan Heights in Fort Gregorio Del Pilar, Baguio City, 512 units.

Survey works are also ongoing in these three sites.

The three others also set for groundbreaking this 2018 are the Woodstown in Barangay Tabtabungao, Rosario, La Union, 500 units; Ciudad de Dahican in Barangay Dahican, Mati City, Davao Oriental, 500 units; and Adelaide Homes in Barangay Guilon, Island of Samal, Davao del Norte.

Escalada said during the program here on Sunday the housing projects are a “complete departure” from the previous AFP/PNP housing program.

“In the past, it used to be a 22-square meter floor are over a 40-square meter lot area. Today, by virtue of the instruction of the President to the NHA, we have increased the lot size from 40 to 80 square meters and the floor size from 20 to 60 square meters with two bedrooms,” he added.

Escalada said in an interview before the program that under the Duterte administration, the NHA will ensure that the design and the construction methodology for these housing projects are of high quality.

“For the Duterte administration, I will guarantee you that there is no substandard (project),” he added.

Police arrest follower of slain ISIS 'emir'

From the Philippine News Agency (May 21): Police arrest follower of slain ISIS 'emir'

The police have arrested a follower of Isnilon Hapilon, the self-style 'emir' of the Islamic State for Iraq and Syria (ISIS) for Asia who was killed in a law enforcement operation last year, a police official said.

Chief Supt. Billy Beltran, Police Regional Office-9 (PRO-9) director, identified the arrested Abu Sayyaf follower as Hadji Gahis Attika, a resident of Sumisip, Basilan province.

Beltran said Attika was arrested around 2:30 p.m. Saturday in Barangay Recodo, 14.45 kilometers west of City Hall through a warrant of arrest for kidnapping.

Beltran said Attika belonged to the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) based in Basilan province led by Isnilon Hapilon.

Hapilon was killed in a firefight on October 16, 2017 as the government forces were about to liberate Marawi City from the hands of the ISIS and Maute group who occupied several areas of that city.

Beltran said Attika has standing warrant of arrest for six-count kidnapping with serious illegal detention for his alleged involvement in the raid of the Golden Harvest Plantation in Barangay Tairan, Lantawan, Basilan on June 11, 2001.

The ASG executed by beheading five of the 15 workers they seized during the raid while the remaining 10 have either escaped or rescued by pursuing military forces.

Attika was placed under the custody of the 904th Mobile Company of the Regional Mobile Force Battalion-9.

Fighting erupts between 2 warring political groups in Sulu

From the Philippine News Agency (May 21): Fighting erupts between 2 warring political groups in Sulu
The military has deployed “reasonable number of troops” to maintain peace and prevent escalation of violence in the town of Maimbung, Sulu.

The deployment came after fighting erupted between two warring political groups, namely, of Maimbung Vice Mayor Mudjasan Pando and Imal Matarul, the brother of Municipal Councilor Abubakar Tan, said the Joint Task Force Sulu in its initial report released Monday.

Two people were killed and 10 others were injured during the firefight, which broke out around 7 p.m. Friday in Barangay Bualo Lipid, Maimbung, the task force said. The two fatalities included a brother and a cousin of Pando.

Three of the 10 injured were members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the remaining seven were civilians.

Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Joint Task Force Sulu commander and Senior Supt. Pablo Lara II, Sulu police director, and other lower unit commanders proceeded to Maimbung to pacify the situation upon receiving the report. The officials conferred with the leaders of the warring sides to ease the tension, the military said.

Joint military and police patrol base have been established “right at the center of the affected community” to “restore normalcy in the area,” Sobejana said.

“Normal na (ang situation). Nilagyan ko ng reasonable number of troops (The situation has normalized. I deployed reasonable number of troops),” Sobejana added.

He said the residents were advised to stay home and remain calm.

Army steps up patrols in Cotabato waterways

From the Philippine News Agency (May 21): Army steps up patrols in Cotabato waterways

The Army’s 5th Special Forces Battalion (SFB) here has strengthened its riverine patrols in three major tributaries crisscrossing the city in order to fortify its internal security set-up against lawless groups.

On Sunday, members of the 5th SFB aboard speedboats, combed the channels of Rio Grande de Mindanao, Tamontaka and Matampay rivers to thwart plans of criminals and Islamic militants on launching attacks to the city, said Lt. Col. James Uri, 5th SFB commander.
“All of these are just precautionary measures to further secure the city,”
Uri told local reporters in an interview.

The 5th SFB is currently augmenting the 300-man city police force in securing the city, particularly the waterways traversing the locality.

He said that among the three waterways, extra monitoring is focused on Rio Grande de Mindanao, being the largest and longest river in Mindanao with the estimated length of 182 kilometers and 96 meters in width.

Early on, authorities have also set up five guarded boat docks in the city’s riverside Bucana, Matampay, Tamontaka, Kalanganan and Timako areas here with boats, big and small alike, tagged with numbers for identification as they cruise the waterways as part of the security initiative.

An inter-agency law enforcement group, aptly called Task Force Kutawato, composed of military, police and local force multipliers, is also acting in coordination to make the city safe for its constituents.

The city, which has 37 villages, serves as catch basin for water coming from the 220,000-hectare Liguasan marshland situated in the borders of Bukidnon, North Cotabato, Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat provinces.

Last week, the Army’s 6th Infantry Division sponsored a forum on countering violent extremism at the Shariff Kabunsuan Complex, the provisional seat of government of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao situated in this city, with known security analyst Dr. Rommel Banlaoi as main speaker.

PRRD to grace Navy's 120th anniversary

From the Philippine News Agency (May 21): PRRD to grace Navy's 120th anniversary

President Rodrigo Duterte will be the guest-of-honor and speaker for the Philippine Navy's (PN) 120th founding anniversary on Tuesday.

This was confirmed by Navy spokesperson Capt. Lued Lincuna in a text message Monday.

The event will take place at the Coconut Palace, Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Complex, Pasay City, at 2 p.m.

Lincuna said this year's anniversary theme is “Protecting the Seas, Securing Our Future”.

Highlights of the event are the fleet review of PN vessels including the Multi-Purpose Attack Craft (MPAC) newly-equipped with missiles, fly-by of naval air assets and capability demonstration of amphibious operations.

Outstanding PN personnel and units will also be feted during the ceremony.

PAF allots P85-M to maintain 5 combat helicopters

From the Philippine News Agency (May 21): PAF allots P85-M to maintain 5 combat helicopters

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) is allocating PHP85 million for the acquisition of spares and services needed for the overhaul and repair of five T53 engine assemblies powering its UH-IH/D combat utility helicopters.

Up for engine assembly maintenance are UH-IH/D helicopters with tail numbers 0225, 501, 8306, 929 and 8166.

Pre-bid conference is slated on Friday, 9 a.m. at the PAF Procurement Center Center Conference Room, Villamor Air Base, Pasay City.

While submission of bids is scheduled for June 7, 9 a.m. at the same venue.

"The Philippine Air Force reserves the right to reject any and all bids, declare a failure of bidding, or not award the contract at any time prior to contract award in accordance with Section 41 of RA 9184 and its IRR, without thereby incurring any liability to the affected bidder or bidders," PAF Bids and Awards chair Brig. Gen. Ferynl Buca said in the bid bulletin posted at the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System website.

The PAF is using its UH-IH/D helicopters for transport, supply and medical evacuation missions.

JTF-NCR, other security forces seize weapons cache in Quirino province

From the Philippine News Agency (May 21): JTF-NCR, other security forces seize weapons cache in Quirino province

Troopers from the Joint Task Force-National Capital Region (JTF-NCR) together with the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, 5th Infantry Division and Police Regional Office-2 successfully recovered eight high-powered firearms and assorted police and military uniforms during operations in Quirino last May 19.

In a press briefing Monday, Brig. Alan Arrojado, JTF-NCR head, said the captured weapons include two M-14 carbines, four M-16 automatic rifles, one M-653 "Baby Armalite" and the upper receiver of another M-16 rifle aside from assorted ammunition.

Also seized were 14 pairs of combat boots and 15 sets of Philippine National Police uniforms.

Arrojado said that all the items were captured during operations at Sitio Kalbo, Barangay Disimungal, Nagtipunan, Quirino.

Aside from the weapons and uniforms, supporting troops from the 5th Infantry Division's 86th Infantry Battalion also captured a rebel camp at the nearby Sitio Pulang Lupa after a short firefight.

The JTF-NCR chief said the location of the weapons and other military stores were provided by three former rebels who surrendered to him and NICA-National Capital Region Director Rufino C. Mendoza last May 16.

Hawaii meeting shows US still PH’s traditional ally: Malacañang

From the Philippine News Agency (May 21): Hawaii meeting shows US still PH’s traditional ally: Malacañang

The recent “high-level” meeting between the Philippines and United States officials in Hawaii shows that the US remains as the country’s traditional ally despite President Rodrigo Duterte's push for an independent foreign policy, Malacanang said Monday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano flew from the Middle East to Hawaii where he joined Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and other officials to meet outgoing US Pacific Command (PACOM) chief Admiral Harry Harris Jr. over the weekend.

The Philippine delegation was also joined by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) acting Secretary Eduardo Ano, Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez and Permanent Representative to the United Nations Teodoro Locsin Jr.

“Well, I can only surmise that the visit is intended to reassure the US that while we are pursuing an independent foreign policy, we have not actually abandoned our traditional ally, the United States,” Roque said in a Palace press briefing.

“That’s probably to reassure that we value the continued friendship and security cooperation that we have had with the United States throughout the years,” he added.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the Philippines and the US have reaffirmed during the meeting their commitment to boost their alliance under the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) signed in 1951.

The treaty provides that both countries would give each other assistance in case of an armed attack.

Roque explained that the MDT can be applied only if there is an actual attack on the Philippine territory or any of the islands.

“In the absence of an actual attack, the Mutual Defense Treaty is inapplicable,” Roque said.

Lawmaker wants National Security Council convened

From the Philippine News Agency (May 21): Lawmaker wants National Security Council convened

A lawmaker at the House of Representatives has filed a resolution calling for the convening of the National Security Council (NSC) to address the "seeming escalation" of military presence by China within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

In a statement on Monday, Muntinlupa City Rep. Ruffy Biazon, senior vice chair of the House national defense and security committee, said the "weaponizing of islands" by China within the country's EEZ is a matter of serious national security concern.

"This issue is beyond politics and involves a threat to national territorial integrity and security, and will affect the lives of not just the Filipinos of today but also those of future generations," Biazon said.

House Resolution 1855 expresses the sense of the House of Representatives on the need to convene the NSC in order that a national policy on the West Philippine Sea may be formulated and defined.

Biazon said it is urgent for the Philippines to come up with an official policy that will uphold national interest in terms of security, territorial integrity, natural resources, and patrimony.

"Such a policy is best crafted with the inputs from those who compose the National Security Council whose collective wisdom based on experience, expertise, and diversity of opinion will ensure a balanced conclusion in favor of Philippine national interest," he said.

Under Executive Order No. 115 series of 1986, the NSC is primarily tasked to "formulate and adopt policies, programs, and procedures on all matters pertaining to or affecting the national security so that judgments and actions thereon by the President may rest on sound advice and accurate information."

Biazon also filed a separate resolution calling for a congressional probe on the reported deployment by China of missiles in the Spratly islands.

In his House Resolution 1856, Biazon cited reports that China had deployed anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missile systems on Kagitingan, Zamora, and Panganiban reefs in the Spratly archipelago, noting that these capabilities are well within the EEZ and national territory of the Philippines.

He said the deployment of military assets clearly has national security implications on the Philippines and should be taken seriously as a threat.

"A foreign military presence within our sovereign rights and sovereign territory, regardless of physical presence or projected capability to strike, should not be tolerated, especially if its presence is not upon invitation by the Philippines or covered by a mutual agreement or treaty," he said.

Malacañang 'seriously concerned’ over Chinese bombers in WPS

From the Philippine News Agency (May 21): Malacañang 'seriously concerned’ over Chinese bombers in WPS

Malacañang on Monday expressed ‘very serious concerns’ over reports that Chinese bombers, including a long-range H-6K bomber, landed on one of three artificial islands that China developed in the disputed West Philippine Sea.

“We take note of the reports that appeared and we express serious concerns anew on its impact on constructive efforts to maintain peace and stability in the region,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a Palace press briefing.

Roque, however, said President Rodrigo Duterte “does not see any immediate threat” despite recent missile deployment and landing of bombers in the Chinese reclaimed islands.

“As I said, we do not consider China to be a threat to our security right now because of our new found friendship with China,” Roque said.

Roque maintained that the issue should be addressed through diplomatic means, which includes the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) declaration adopted in the recent Singapore Summit.

“This (ASEAN declaration) reiterates the importance of non-militarization and self-restraint in the conduct of activities that could further complicate the situation in the West Philippine Sea,” Roque said.

He said member countries of ASEAN should call for China to heed the declaration of non-militarization of the WPS or South China Sea.

“That’s the collective of ASEAN and I think in dealing with China, it’s best that we speak as one as ASEAN. So that’s we are reiterating the ASEAN statement, calling for non-militarization and self-restraint in the conduct of activities in the WPS,” Roque said.

Roque clarified that there is no need for each ASEAN member to issue an independent statement.

On the part of the Philippines, Roque said the Chinese militarization should be discussed in the Bilateral Consultative Mechanism (BCM) between China and the Philippines.

“The Philippines reaffirms the need to enhance mutual trust and confidence, avoid actions that would escalate tensions and peaceful resolutions of disputes in accordance with international law including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and like the other issues that have been reported by a major daily, we will bring this issue again in the bilateral mechanism that we have agreed upon with China,” Roque said.

“We will again exert diplomatic initiatives. Obviously we are in no position to physically stop them, but we will take all initiatives open to us,” he added.

Roque had earlier said the Philippines had addressed China’s recent missile deployment in the WPS through BCM.

He said the Philippines is not ignoring China’s recent activities especially that the three artificial islands that fall within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

“We are addressing it diplomatically. The position of the DFA, there is no need to announce in public everything they do because obviously diplomatic communication and relations and negotiations is subject to exception to freedom of information and likewise, of course, we have always expressed serious concerns, it’s not as if we take it sitting down,” Roque said.

When asked if the Philippines can invoke its Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) with US to address the WPS issue, Roque said the treaty is applicable only if there is an actual armed attack.

“In the absence of an actual attack, the Mutual Defense Treaty is inapplicable because there should be an actual armed attack on the Philippine territory or any of the islands,” he explained.