Monday, July 9, 2018

Soldiers help repair Maguindanao homes damaged by conflict

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 9): Soldiers help repair Maguindanao homes damaged by conflict

REPAIR. Soldiers patch up a hole in the house of a Maguindanao farmer they used as observation post during pursuit operation against Islamic State-linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Datu Paglas town. (Photo by 33rd IB)

DATU PAGLAS, Maguindanao -- Troopers under the 33rd Infantry Battalion (IB), one of the military units pursuing Islamic State-linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Maguindanao, have repaired over the weekend several houses destroyed during clashes here last week, an Army official said Monday.

Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion chief, said among the houses that his men had repaired is that of farmer Sukarno Suhod, 55, which was used by the military during offensive actions against the BIFF group of Ustadz Sulaiman Tudon in Sitio Mopac, Barangay Poblacion.

“Our troops removed some parts of Suhod’s house wall as an observation post and firing position in support of the maneuvering military personnel,” Cabunoc said.

On Saturday, the 33rd IB reconstruction team led by 1Lt. Cesar Ballado, battalion civil-military operations officer, proceeded to the area together with town officials to assess the overall damage in the armed conflict area. Immediately, the soldiers started repair works.

“The same will be done to other civilian homes destroyed during the hostilities,” Cabunoc said.

Meanwhile, Cabunoc lauded Mayor Ibrahim Paglas for his readiness to extend assistance to the affected families, including materials for the repair of the damaged homes.

More than a thousand individuals were displaced by the hostilities in the area that began on July 1.

“We do not like this to happen but we have a duty to protect you from terrorists,” Cabunoc said in a gathering with the locals Saturday at the town gymnasium.

Cabunoc said it was the residents who tipped the military about the presence of the BIFF in Sitio Mopac. The gunmen have plotted to take over the town hall on July 3.

16 Sayyaf men surrender in Basilan, Sulu

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 9): 16 Sayyaf men surrender in Basilan, Sulu

Brig. Gen. Divino Rey Pabayo, Joint Task Force Sulu commander (left frame) and Col. Fernando Reyeg, Army's 104th Infantry Brigade commander (right frame) talk to the Abu Sayyaf bandits who surrendered on Saturday, July 7, in Sulu and Basilan provinces. (Photo courtesy: Westmincom PIO)

ZAMBOANGA CITY -- Sixteen Abu Sayyaf bandits from the provinces of Basilan and Sulu have surrendered, military officials announced Monday.

Three of the 16 Abu Sayyaf bandits have surrendered around 11:30 a.m. Saturday to the troops of the Army’s 3rd Scout Ranger Battalion headed by Lt. Col. Montano Almodovar in Barangay Campo Uno, Lamitan City, Basilan.

The 13 others surrendered around 9 p.m. Saturday to the Army’ 2nd Scout Ranger Battalion in Barangay Samak, Talipao, Sulu.

Col. Fernando Reyeg, commander of the Basilan-based Army’s 104th Infantry Brigade, identified those who surrendered in the province as Samir Laarin, 33; Ramil Mobarak, 33 and Naim Majid, 31.

Reyeg said the three surrenderers were followers of slain Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Masud Tanajalin alias Abu Talha. They are residents of Barangay Upper Sinangkapan, Akbar town.

They turned over one M-16 rifle and two Garand rifles when they surrendered in coordination with the local government executives of Akbar town.

“The ASG (Abu Sayyaf Group) surrenderers came to a realization that they can go back to the folds of the law and start living a peaceful life with their families,” Reyeg said.

“This (surrender) is a result of our continuing close collaboration with the LGU officials to convince these ASGs to lay down their arms,” he added.

Those who surrendered in Sulu were identified as the following: Mudjakar Bagadi; Madzramil Bagadi; Benarauf Bagadi; Albaser Hadjiri; Junimar Sampangan; Alvarez Rasid; Aksan Adam; Sahari Absari; Jeneyvar Muammil; Amil Sangkaan; Albenal Dawadil; Sab Abduhrasad and Sabri Bidin.

They were followers of slain ASG sub-leader Alden Bagade and sub-leader Apo Mike.

They yielded the following firearms: four M-16 rifles; four caliber .30 M1 Garand Rifles; one caliber 30 Browning automatic rifle; four caliber .45 pistols; one M-203 grenade launcher and ammunition

“This is a clear manifestation that we are achieving our goal of clearing Sulu province from the menace of the ASG through peaceful means by giving them a better option and to re-embrace the true essence of Islam,” Brig. Gen. Divino Rey Pabayo, Joint Task Force Sulu commander said.

Lt. Gen. Arnel Dela Vega, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief, said the bandits decided to surrender due to the relentless focused military operation against them that triggered the recent surrender of their other comrades, including some of their leaders

Westmincom records showed that a total of 123 ASG surrenderers have been recorded in the Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi areas since January this year.

AFP chief honors troops wounded in fight vs. BIFF

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 9): AFP chief honors troops wounded in fight vs. BIFF

HONORED. Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Carlito Galvez Jr. delivers a speech at Camp Siongco, the headquarters of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division in Barangay Awang, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao, on Saturday (July 7, 2018) after honoring fallen and wounded soldiers following fierce clashes last week with the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in the province. (Photo by 6ID)

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao -- Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. honored soldiers wounded in action during the military campaign against the Islamic State-linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Maguindanao.

Galvez, accompanied by Lt. Gen. Arnel Dela Vega, chief of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) based in Zamboanga city, visited the 6th Infantry Division's (6ID) infirmary here on Saturday,

During his visit, Galvez also received operational updates about the campaign against the BIFF and the communist New People's Army (NPA) in Central Mindanao.

Full military honors were accorded to Galvez upon his arrival, with the Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, 6ID commander, as military host. Galvez pinned combat medals to soldiers wounded in action during major clashes against the BIFF last week in Maguindanao.

Among the medals he awarded include the Wounded Personnel Medal, Military Merit Medal, and the Posthumous Gold Cross Medal, the third highest AFP combat medal.

Capt. Arvin John Encinas, 6ID spokesperson, said 2Lt. Junivert Zonio received the Posthumous Gold Cross Medal through his wife for gallantry in action while serving as platoon leader of Charlie Company of the 40th Infantry Battalion during one of the clashes with the BIFF.

With strong determination to accomplish his given mission while confronting the enemies, Zonio was fatally hit in action that resulted in his instantaneous death.

“Second Lt. Zonio fearlessly led his troops in advancing towards the enemy positions, unmindful of his personal safety and dauntlessly led his men and engaged the enemies in a fierce firefight,” Sobejana said.

Other awardees include Sergeants Roy Ramirez, Datukan Moday, and Cesar Pandeling; Privates First Class Jayson Sinahan, Manuel Catalan III, Albert Abao, Jimmy Talib, Diego Aristotle Benian, Arthuro Alberto Jr., Eddie Mallorca, R.C. Manangquil, Jerry John Quibuyen, Dexter Ryan Ponce; and Private Roy Mark Exiomo.

Encinas said other officers and personnel involved in the operations also received the “Military Merit Medal” for their heroic achievement.

Galvez said the wounded personnel deserved recognition, especially those who perished in defense of the country and the Filipino people.

"I am recognizing their exemplary courage in combat. I will make sure that they receive the support that they need while recuperating," he said.

Lumad schools urged to secure required permits to operate

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 9): Lumad schools urged to secure required permits to operate

The Department of Education (DepEd) in Region 12 urged operators of Lumad (indigenous peoples) schools in the region to secure proper permits so they could continue to operate.

The agency issued the advisory in the wake of the continuing protests by non-government organizations over the closure last year of two Lumad schools in South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat provinces.

Around 60 protesters, including Lumad students and parents, have encamped since last week in front of the DepEd-12 regional office in Barangay Carpenter Hill in Koronadal City, as they called for the immediate reopening of their schools.

Antonio Maganto, DepEd-12 public information officer, reiterated that the agency is not against the operations of indigenous peoples' schools in any part of Region 12 or Soccsksargen.

But he said the agency cannot act on the matter unless the operators of the Lumad schools submit the requirements for the issuance of necessary permits.

He was referring to the cases of the schools operated by the Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation Inc. (Mispi) in Barangay Ned in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato and by the Center for Lumad Advocacy Networking Services (Clans) in Barangay Hinalaan in Kalamansig, Sultan Kudarat.

The schools, which were accused by the military of being backed by the New People’s Army (NPA), were closed by concerned local government units due to the lack of permits from DepEd, he said.

Maganto said the concerned groups operating the Lumad schools were not able to complete the required documents for the release of their permits-to-operate.

“We can only issue the permits if they would be able to process and complete all the requirements,” he said in a radio interview.

Timothy Romero, spokesperson of the protesters, told reporters that they had properly complied with and repeatedly submitted the requirements set by DepEd.

But he said they were told to come back a number of times supposedly due to incomplete documents.

Among those required by the agency was Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title, which takes a long time to process with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples.

“Because these schools can’t get their permits, they were unfairly branded as being run by the NPA,” Romero said.

NPAs in N. Cotabato threatened with 'purging': Army

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 9): NPAs in N. Cotabato threatened with 'purging': Army

The military in North Cotabato claimed on Monday that communist rebels operating in the Arakan Valley complex are willing to surrender and live normal lives but are being prevented by their leaders.

Lt. Col. Elrick Paraso, commander of the Army’s 19th Infantry Battalion (IB), said former New People's Army (NPA) members, who earlier surrendered to military authorities, revealed that many of their comrades in the mountains are willing to surrender but were threatened with summary execution.

"The NPA leaders are threatening to conduct "purging" of members if they learn of surrender plots,” Paraso said in an interview over Church-run DXMS radio station here.

Since March, when the 19th IB was deployed in North Cotabato, more than 40 rebels have surrendered with their rifles and availed of the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program.

The latest batch of surrenderers consists of 10 NPA rebels operating in the towns of Arakan, President Roxas, Antipas, and Magpet - who decided to return home to their families last month, Paraso said.

While the Army is offering a venue for the rebels to reform and live peacefully with their families through hotline numbers in billboards across the province, government troops continue to patrol rebel-infested villages at the Arakan Valley complex.

“To date, surrender is still the best option,” Paraso said referring to the NPA rebels wanting to return to government fold.

The Arakan Valley complex is composed of five towns -- Antipas, Arakan, Magpet, Matalam and President Roxas -- where the bulk of government peace and development initiatives are currently being implemented in the province.

On Friday, three NPA rebels were killed in a chance encounter with 19th IB troopers in Barangay Panaca, Magpet.

No casualty was reported on the government side while soldiers recovered three firearms from the slain rebels.

Another N. Cotabato town surrenders 65 loose firearms

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 9): Another N. Cotabato town surrenders 65 loose firearms

TURNOVER. Makilala Mayor Rudy Caoagdan of North Cotabato hands over a rifle to Senior Supt. Maximo Layugan, North Cotabato police director, and Lt. Col. Rhojun Rosales, Army’s 39th IB commander, for the symbolic turnover on Monday (July 9, 2018) of 65 loose firearms coming from civilians of the municipality’s 38 villages. (Photo courtesy of Cecil Fuerzas of DXCM UMBN – Kidapawan)

COTABATO CITY – Officials of Makilala, North Cotabato, surrendered on Monday 65 assorted loose firearms collected from civilians of the town’s 38 barangays (villages).

“The surrender of these firearms signifies the town’s all-out support to the disarmament program of President Rodrigo Duterte,” Makilala Mayor Rudy Caoagdan said in a statement during the turnover rite held at the Makilala town hall grounds.

The firearms were formally received by Senior Supt. Maximo Layugan, North Cotabato provincial police director, and Lt. Col. Rhojun Rosales, commander of the Army’s 39th Infantry Battalion.

Among the firearms surrendered were a Browning automatic rifle, M14 rifles, M16 rifles, Garand rifles, Carbine rifles, M203 launchers with live shells, 12-gauge shotguns, and .45 and .38 improvised pistols.

Makilala is the sixth local government unit in North Cotabato that turned over loose firearms to police and military authorities.

The local governments of M’lang, Carmen, Midsayap, Matalam, and Pikit also have surrendered guns in support of the disarmament program of the Duterte administration.

DND, AFP, DepEd hold advanced citizenship training program meet

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 9): DND, AFP, DepEd hold advanced citizenship training program meet

The four-day capability-building workshop for the implementation of Advanced Citizen Training Program (ACTP) formally concluded Sunday.

The participants in the event, which formally started July 5, were ranking officials from the Department of National Defense (DND), the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

"The workshop is aimed at preparing 100 teachers and 100 AFP commandants from identified schools offering Grades 11 and 12 nationwide projected to implement the ACTP," military public affairs office chief Col. Noel Detoyato said.

ACTP is anchored on House Bill 5113 endorsed by President Rodrigo Duterte, proposing the mandatory Basic Reserve Officers Training Course (ROTC) in Grades 11 and 12 in consultation with other stakeholders.

The proposed bill was presented and unanimously approved for endorsement to the House of Representatives as a priority measure by the President and the Cabinet during the 12th Cabinet meeting on Feb. 7, 2017 in MalacaƱang.

The bill was eventually filed in the House by Deputy Speaker Raneo Abu (2nd District, Batangas) as HB 5113 Feb. 22, 2017, fully adopting the DND/AFP bill.

In line with the President's endorsement of the HB 5113, the DepEd and the DND/AFP worked together to come up with a basic ROTC curriculum that can be piloted in 100 senior high schools nationwide next school year.

Detoyato said this resulted in the March 16 signing of a Memorandum of Agreement to pilot this Basic ROTC curriculum but will be called as ACTP pending the passage into law of HB 5113.

Proponent for Batch 4 assault crafts now in post-qualification phase

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 9): Proponent for Batch 4 assault crafts now in post-qualification phase

The proponent for Batch 4 of the Multi-Purpose Assault Craft (MPAC) project is now undergoing the post-qualification phase, Department of National Defense (DND) spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said Friday.

"(The proponent for) Batch 4 of the MPACs are now subject to post-qualification. (These MPACs) have (almost) the same specifications (as the Batch 3) and will be armed each with the (Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd) Spike-ER (surface-to-surface missiles)," Andolong noted.

This project will consist of three boats, Andolong disclosed.

Batch 3 MPACs, which consists of three boats, were constructed by the Subic-based Propmech Corporation and activated on May 22, 2017.

All of the above-mentioned MPACs are being fitted with the Spike-ER launchers and missiles as of this posting.

Once these Batch 4 MPACs are constructed and activated, the Philippine Navy (PN) will be operating a force of 12 MPACs, with six of the vessels armed with the Israeli-made missile system.

The latter is the first missile system acquired by the PN and is capable of penetrating 1,000 mm (39 inches) of rolled homogeneous armor and has a range of eight kilometers.

PAF allots P60-M for FA-50PH parts

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 9): PAF allots P60-M for FA-50PH parts

The Philippine Air Force (PAF), through its Bids and Awards Committee, is now looking for PHP60 million worth of spare parts and other components needed for the maintenance of its two FA-50PH light-lift fighter trainers with tail numbers 001 and 002.

Pre-bid conference is slated for Friday, 9 a.m. at the PAF Procurement Center Conference Room, Villamor Air Base, Pasay City, the bid bulletin from the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System said.

While opening and submission of bids on July 26, 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 Committee chair Brig. Gen. Ferynl Buca said in the same bid bulletin.

The FA-50PHs were first used in the Marawi City campaign where it was heavily used for close-air support mission roles along with the venerable OV-10 "Bronco" turbo-prop attack aircraft, SF-260 light bombers and various attack helicopters of the PAF.

The FA-50PHs has a top speed of Mach 1.5 or one and a half times the speed of sound and is capable of being fitted air-to-air missiles, including the AIM-9 "Sidewinder" air-to-air and heat-seeking missiles aside from light automatic cannons.

Twelve aircraft were acquired from Korea Aerospace Industries for PHP18. 9 billion. Deliveries commenced in November 2015 and were completed in May 2017.

Navy base in Cebu due for upgrade to handle bigger ships

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 9): Navy base in Cebu due for upgrade to handle bigger ships

The government has allocated PHP1 billion for the upgrading and other improvements of Naval Base Rafael Ramos in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu to make it accessible to the present and future frigates that will be acquired by the Philippine Navy (PN).

In an interview Monday, PN spokesperson Cmdr. Jonathan Zata said the bidding process for the project started last week.

"Kaya naman in-undertake yang project na ‘yan, although matagal na ‘yan kung tutuusin (The project was undertaken, although it was long overdue), (it) is intended for our frigates. We're expecting our frigates to be here by 2020, para na s’yang, meron na tayong pier or wharf na madidikitan para sa bagong frigates natin (so that we will have a pier or wharf for our new frigates)," he added.

The improvements eyed for Naval Base Rafael Ramos include dredging, primary and secondary roads, drainage systems, proposed slope protections, a 152 meter by 12 meter wharf, a 105 meter by 165 meter beaching ramp, and 225 meter by 20 meter berthing area among others.

The PN is expecting the delivery of the first of 2,500 gross-ton two-missile-armed frigates from Hyundai Heavy Industries by 2020 with the second scheduled to be delivered by 2021.

These ships are expected to augment the three 3,200 gross-ton Del Pilar-class frigates (formerly the US Hamilton-class cutters) now in PN service.

Other large ships in the PN inventory are the two strategic sealift vessels, the 7,000-gross ton BRP Tarlac (LD-601) and BRP Davao Del Sur (LD-602).

Zata said there is a pressing need for the PN to improve the above-mentioned naval base as its frigates and other large ships in the fleet have no home port to speak of.

At present, these large Navy ships are anchoring off Subic Bay and Pier 13, Manila South Harbor.

Once these upgrades are completed, the PN spokesperson said Naval Base Rafael Ramos will be the first-ever facility capable of handling large vessels.