Tuesday, August 21, 2018

8 former NPA rebels to undergo de-radicalization process

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 21): 8 former NPA rebels to undergo de-radicalization process

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte talks to three of the eight former New People' Army rebels who surrendered to the government. The surrenderees were presented to the mayor in a press conference at the 16th Infantry Battalion headquarters in Barangay Dalisay, Panabo City on Monday. (Photo by Lilian Mellejor/PNA)
PANABO CITY, Davao del Norte-- Eight former members of the New People's Army (NPA) who voluntarily surrendered to the 16th Infantry Battalion will undergo "de-radicalization" programs to prevent them from being lured by communist ideologies again.

This was according to Maj. Gen. Noel Clement, commander of the Army's 10th Infantry Division (10ID), who underscored the process of de-radicalization in preparing the surrenderees to return to a peaceful life.

If they do not undergo the process, Clement cautioned that the former NPA rebels can be vulnerable again to NPA recruitment "because they are still young."

Clement presented the surrenderers to Mayor Sara Duterte on Monday on the sidelines of the turnover of command at the 16th Infantry Battalion headquarters in Barangay Dalisay here.

The surrenderees are former members of the NPA's Pulang Bagani Command (PBC) 1 operating in Davao City areas, who turned themselves in to authorities separately, Clement said.

One of the surrenderees, 23-year old Quintoy of Lumiad, Paquibato District, Davao City, said he abandoned the communist struggle after facing a difficult life with the NPA. For instance, he said finding daily food was a constant struggle.

Another surrenderee, Alfie, who is 30 years old, said he was a political instructor of the NPA.

Alfie said he was operating in the white area (urban center) facilitating rallies before he was finally convinced to join the NPA at 26.

Brig Gen Ernesto Torres, the commander of the Army's 1003rd Infantry Brigade, said there are now 172 NPA members who surrendered to different units under his brigade within the year. Of the number, 87 were regular members of the NPA.

Aside from undergoing the de-radicalization process, Quintoy, Alfie, and the six other surrenderers were debriefed, and are undergoing skills and livelihood training. They are now completing the processes to avail of the government's Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (e-CLIP), for which they will get PHP50,000 for livelihood and another PHP15,000 in immediate assistance.

Mayor Sara was elated many rebels have decided to come down and support the government.

The mayor said many surrenderees also came to her directly to surrender but she referred them instead to the Army battalions for faster processing of their livelihood assistance and training.


NPA owns up to slay of NegOcc village chief

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 21): NPA owns up to slay of NegOcc village chief

The New People’s Army (NPA) has claimed responsibility over the death of village chief Rhoy Pagapang of Barangay Libas in Isabela, Negros Occidental on Monday.

The Leonardo Panaligan Command-Central Negros Guerrilla Front, in a statement released to the local media on Monday night, said the 38-year-old barangay captain was a “military asset”.

Through their spokesperson JB Regalado, the rebel group said they have been warning Pagapang for his actions since they included him on their target list in 2016.

They added that Pagapang defied them by continuing to report NPA activities to the intelligence officer of the Philippine Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade.

A report of the provincial police on Tuesday said Pagapang, a second term village chief, was shot to death by four unidentified men beside a sugarcane field in the neighboring Barangay Cabcab around 10 a.m.

Investigators recovered eight empty shells of .45-caliber pistol and one for 9mm-caliber pistol, the report added.

Senior Insp. Randy Babor, chief of Isabela Municipal Police Station, said in a radio interview on Tuesday that with the NPA claiming responsibility for the Pagapang murder, they will focus their investigation on the perpetrators from the rebel group.

The killing of the Libas village chief was the latest in the rebel atrocities in central Negros, which claimed the lives of barangay leaders.

On August 10, NPA assailants also gunned down former San Agustin village chief Agapito Euraoba, also in Isabela, Negros Occidental.

On the same day, the rebels shot to death village chief Virgilio Masicampo Jr. of Barangay Nagsaha, Guihulngan City.

Last July 31, they also killed Policarpio Bulado, the bodyguard of Guihulngan City Mayor Guido Reyes.

The Army’s 94th Infantry Battalion led by Lt. Col. Carlo Ferrer had earlier condemned what it described as “the killing rampage of the CPP-NPA’s Leonardo Panaligan Command” of innocent and defenseless civilians in central Negros.


6ID chief, Army officials visit MILF camp in Maguindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 21): 6ID chief, Army officials visit MILF camp in Maguindanao

DARAPANAN VISIT. Moro Islamic Liberation Front chieftain Al Haj Murad Ebrahim welcomes Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, the commander of the 6th Infantry Division, during a visit inside MILF’s Camp Darapanan in Maguindanao on Sunday (Aug. 19). (Photo courtesy of 6ID)

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao -- Armed with the desire to strengthen peace in Mindanao, Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commanding general of the 6th Infantry Division (ID), visited the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) main base in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao on Sunday.

Capt. Arvin John Encinas, speaking for the 6th ID, said Sobejana, accompanied by brigade and battalion commanders, had the chance to touch base in the historical place of the MILF’s Camp Darapanan as a sign of commitment to the pursuit of peace and development.

Encinas said Sobejana, who also heads the Task Force Central, and his staff visited the camp to build trust and confidence between the military and the MILF central committee, chaired by Al Haj Murad Ebrahim.

“We did not carry our guns inside the hall, our armed escorts stayed outside the camp,” Encinas said, adding no armored personnel carrier or military hardware accompanied the Army general.

“It was historical and unprecedented since it was the first time that the 6th ID top brass visited Camp Darapanan in full force,” Encinas said.

Murad assured the officials that inside the camp, all their visitors are safe whether military, police, government officials or diplomats.

“When you are in Camp Darapanan, feel free. You are safe, and secured and feel like at home,” Murad told his special guests.

“We are embracing you in this camp with a sincere and a clean heart with a common goal,” the MILF chief added.

Sobejana told Murad and other MILF leaders that his coming over was an opportunity “to listen to your future programs and activities as part as the approval of the Bangsamoro Organic Law.”

“We have a similar objective, which is peace and progress for our people,” Sobejana, who earned the moniker among Mindanaons as “Army peace builder”, said.

“In war, we cannot get enough, but in talking, we can get more than we expect. We are here in full support and cooperation with all your noble intention and undertakings,” he added.

The Army and the MILF did not disclose what was formally forged during the two-hour meeting.


2 warring Maguindanao clans sign peace pact

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 21): 2 warring Maguindanao clans sign peace pact

Local officials of Maguindanao brokered Tuesday a peace covenant, ending a clan war in the town of Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao.

Lawyer Bobby Katambak, legal officer of Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu, said the long-standing family feud had already left several family members dead and about 3,000 families displaced.
Upon the joint efforts of Mangudadatu and Brig. Gen. Diosdado Carreon, the commander of the 601st Infantry Brigade, the Sindatok and Dimaukom clans agreed to end their dispute and vowed to cease committing violence against each other.

Katambak said the written truce was signed by elders from both families, among them members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The Sindatok-Dimaukom “rido” (family feud) started last year with the murder of Datu Saudi Ampatuan Vice Mayor Anwar Sindatuk whose family blamed the Dimaukom clan.

Armed followers of the two families repeatedly figured in clashes on the highway linking Datu Saudi and Datu Piang, affecting commuters and residents.

Katambak said among the signatories of the peace deal included Datu Saudi Acting Mayor Anida Dimaukom and Municipal Councilor Jaitun Sindatuk, who sits as Sangguniang Bayan member representing the Association of Barangay Captains in the locality.

Both Mangudadatu and Carreon lauded the two clans who voted to set aside their differences and help each other restore normalcy in the municipality.


Gov’t to use whole nation approach in localized peace talks

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 21): Gov’t to use whole nation approach in localized peace talks

MAWAB, Compostela Valley -- The government is eyeing a whole nation approach, where the security sector and government agencies support each other in peace and development initiatives to end the communist insurgency, a military official said Monday.

Philippine Army Chief Maj. Gen. Rolando Bautista said the objective is to address the root causes of insurgency as the government gears towards localized peace talks.

Bautista said the whole nation approach would be just one aspect in the localized peace talks while the other would be directly talking to the commanders of the New People’s Army (NPA).

“Nakikita naman natin, parang walang control yung ang liderato sa mga tauhan dito sa ground (As we can see the leaders – communists -- have no control over their people on the ground),” he said in an interview on the sidelines of the 117th anniversary of the 10th Infantry Division in Tuburan, Mawab, Compostela Valley province.

Bautista said the government will directly approach the NPA ground commanders while other concerned government agencies will implement programs for the communities affected by insurgency.

“Lahat ng aspeto ay nasa localized peace talks. Ang security sector, pinatatahimik ang isang lugar. So tingnan kung paano suportahan ang peace and development sa isang area (All aspects are included in the localized peace talks wherein the security sector works on the peace and order. We will see how peace and development would be supported),” he said.

Bautista is looking at the Davao City Peace 911 as one model of the localized peace initiatives that focus on programs to address the root causes of insurgency, such as livelihood, improving or opening of farm-to-market roads, among others, to improve the socioeconomic condition of the area.

He said there are already peace initiatives in Bohol and some areas in Luzon.

The Army chief said President Rodrigo Duterte is setting the direction for the localized talks after a failed negotiation despite the administration’s effort to reach out to communist leaders, such as Jose Maria Sison.

“Nakikita ng gobyerno na baka dapat kausapin ang nasa baba (The government sees the need to really reach out to the people on the ground),” he added, saying this would be a better and faster way of solving the communist insurgency.

Bautista said the official guidelines for the local talks are already finished but it is not officially out.

He, however, confirmed that a task force has been created by Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, which will work to end the communist insurgency in the Philippines.


BIFF killed in Army offensives in Maguindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 21): 7 BIFF killed in Army offensives in Maguindanao

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao -- Seven members of the Islamic State-inspired Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) were killed during military artillery offensives on Monday and Tuesday in Sultan sa Barongis, Maguindanao, an Army official said.

Capt. Arvin John Encinas, the Army’s 6th Infantry Division (ID) spokesperson, said the number of fatalities was provided by local officials of Sitio Kabasalan, Barangay Darampua, Sultan sa Barongis, Maguindanao on Tuesday morning.

Artillery and mortar offensives were launched by the Army’s 601st Infantry Brigade based in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao on Monday night against the group of Ismael Abubakar, alias “Commander Bungos,” after the presence of about 50 BIFF armed men were confirmed.

“The operation was specific and no civilians were affected or displaced,” Encinas told the Philippine News Agency (PNA), adding that the target village was in the middle of the Liguasan marshland.

“The remains of slain BIFF had been taken by their relatives for Islamic burial rites before sundown,” he said. Citing reports from the ground, Encinas identified four of the seven the fatalities through their aliases as Amir, Badrudin, Mutalib, and Abdurahman, all under the BIFF Bungos faction.

Brigadier Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, the Army’s 6th ID commander, said the artillery attacks were carried out after an intelligence information was verified and confirmed. Village officials also reported the presence of Commander Bungos and his men in Sitio Kabasalan of Darampua village.

Sobejana said the armed men apparently converged in the sub-village to plan out terror attacks in civilian communities in the region and celebrate Eid'ul Adha (Feast of Sacrifice) on Tuesday.

Encinas said Army units in Sultan sa Barongis and adjoining Maguindanao towns are verifying reports "whether Commander Bungos was among the fatalities.”

At least six others were injured and carried by their comrades as they fled Barangay Darampua, the military said, quoting residents in the area.

In May, at least 50 BIFF were killed, including foreign looking members, when the Army’s 6th ID launched air and ground assaults in the marshland of General Salipada K. Pendatun town in the province.


SAP Go wants promotion for soldier, militiaman who escaped NPA captors

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 21): SAP Go wants promotion for soldier, militiaman who escaped NPA captors

Special Assistant to the President (SAP) Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go said the soldier and the militiaman who escaped from the custodial force of the New People’s Army (NPA) deserve promotion for their bravery.

The troops, Corporal Johannes Parreño of the Army's 28th Infantry Battalion and Civilian Army Auxiliary Dindo Sagayno, were presented to Go by the Eastern Mindanao Command on Tuesday afternoon.

In a press briefing, Go said that during the NPA's release of a police officer in North Cotabato last month, he also asked for Parreño and Sagayno's freedom. Go was thankful that Parreno and Sagayno were treated well by their abductors.

“I just want to reiterate that the President (Rodrigo Duterte) has a program for those NPA members who want to surrender," he said.

Parreño escaped from the NPA following pursuit operation in Barangay Lambog, Manay, Davao Oriental around 11 pm on Friday, August 17. On the other hand, Sagayno escaped on July 6 when the operating units of 701st Brigade encountered the abductors at Langgawisan1, Barangay Ompao Tarragona.

“I will recommend to the President if they will be given award or promotion, at the same time, Lapu-Lapu award for their bravery," Go said referring to Parreño and Sagayno. They were abducted while on their way back to their headquarters in Mati City after attending a school activity in Taragona town, Davao Oriental, on June 10.

Sagayno said he was able to escape because no one was guarding him when the NPA encountered government troops under the Army's 67th Infantry Battalion.

Lt. Col Jacob Thadeus Obligado, 67IB commander, said his troops launched the operation following information from locals on the presence of NPA rebels in Manay, Davao Oriental.

Obligado said it is very rare that NPA captives are able to gain freedom from their captors without any negotiation.

"This shows the effectiveness of our military operations backed up by community support," he added.


Duterte dispels Joma’s coma rumor by going live on Facebook

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 21): Duterte dispels Joma’s coma rumor by going live on Facebook

President Rodrigo R. Duterte went live on Facebook Monday night, dispelling rumors spread by Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison that he is in coma. (Screengrab from Sec. Bong Go's FB account)
President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Monday night quashed the rumor spread by Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison that he is in coma by going live on Facebook.

In a live video shared by Duterte’s top aide Christopher “Bong” Go on his Facebook page, Duterte was shown having dinner with a female visitor named Bernice in a hotel in Davao City.

“I said I'm alive. Fairly healthy and I'm having dinner with a beautiful lady from Davao. She’s Bernice, she's only from Harvard,” Duterte said.

Duterte said he invited Bernice, who came from Harvard, to discuss “many things” with her but did not elaborate.

He said if rumors were true that he was in comatose, then he would rise from his bed to greet his female guest.

“Okay pa naman ako. Sabi nila comatose. How can you be comatose with a beautiful lady? Kung comatose ako, makita ko si Bernice, talagang babangon ako (I’m okay. They say comatose. How can you be comatose with a beautiful lady? If I’m in comatose and I see Bernice, I’ll get up),” Duterte jested.

Duterte said if anyone was sick, it was Sison.

“Ikaw 'yung may sakit (You’re the one sick),” Duterte said, noting that Sison has probably been going in and out of the hospital in Netherlands, where he has been in exile since 1987.

“If you think you are sick, come home and I will bring you to a place. it's called Bilibid,” Duterte said referring to the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City.

Duterte said in Bilibid, Sison will be provided a bed and plenty to keep him company.

Meanwhile, he also wished Sison to live for a thousand more years.

“Joma, ang wish ko sa buhay maski na wala ka nang silbi sa mundong ito, mabubuhay ka pa rin ng mga 1,000 years. Para ikot ka ng ikot dito sa mundo (Joma, my wish for you is that even if you have no purpose in this world, you live for 1,000 years so you’ll just keep roaming around the world),” Duterte said.

Duterte said Sison could be the reincarnation of a guy, possibly a biblical character, who has been “walking around the planet” and “not dying.”

On Monday morning, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque also dispelled the rumor by noting that Duterte is in good health and will even make a public appearance in Cebu City on Tuesday.

“Contrary to what Joma Sison said, the President is fine and well in Davao participating in Kadayawan (festival). He will have a public appearance tomorrow (Tuesday) with the League of Cities in Cebu City,” Roque said in a Palace briefing.

“As usual, Joma Sison does not know what he talks about. How will he know about the state of health of the President when he is faraway in the Netherlands?” he added.

Roque shrugged off Sison’s remark noting that he was “not a doctor.”

He also appealed to Sison, as well as other critics of the President, to stop wishing Duterte ill.

“Sasabihin ko lang po doon sa mga kritiko ni Presidente (I just want to tell the President’s critics), stop wishing him ill as far as his health is concerned. Every time you wish him ill, lalong lumalakas (he gets stronger),” Roque said.

On his Facebook account, Sison earlier claimed sources have told him that there was a “darkness” in Duterte’s face during the national convention of fraternity Lex Talionis Fraternitas of San Beda Law school on Saturday (August 18).

Sison said the President was in coma since Sunday night although the report is still being verified.


Israel can help PH vs. terror, Go says

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 21): Israel can help PH vs. terror, Go says

DATU ABDULLAH SANGKI, Maguindanao — Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence Go said President Rodrigo Duterte's visit to Israel could help boost the Philippines' campaign against terror.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the 4th Kagalawan Festival and the 14th anniversary of this town on Monday, Go said Israel has anti-terror capabilities that could help the country in its own fight against terrorists.

Special Assistant to the President Christopher "Bong" Go graces the 71st Founding Anniversary of the Municipality of Sultan Kudarat in Maguindanao on Aug. 20, 2018. (OSAP photos)

“Israel could help us big time, their capability on anti-terrorism,” Go said.

He did not specify if an anti-terror cooperation would be among the agreements that would be signed during Duterte's visit starting Sept. 3. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had invited Duterte, the first Philippine President to make a visit to the Jewish state.

“But we will have joint agreements with Israel,” Go added.

The government has been battling terror groups identified with the Islamic State, some of which have engaged troops in a five-month battle in Marawi City starting May 23 last year.

The government also labeled communist rebels as terrorists because of their use of explosives and unprovoked attacks against government troops and civilians.

Go said Duterte will also meet with Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who are in Israel.

“I just don't know the exact number but there are around 20,000 of our kababayans there,” Go added.


UN experts welcome PH ruling on Tauli-Corpuz, 3 others' terrorist tag

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 21): UN experts welcome PH ruling on Tauli-Corpuz, 3 others' terrorist tag

Two United Nations (UN) human rights experts welcomed a Manila court ruling that declared UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, and three others as "non-parties" to a petition, seeking to declare the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) as “terrorist organizations”.

On July 27, the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) handed the ruling in relation to the Department of Justice (DOJ) petition filed last February, where Tauli-Corpuz and more than 600 others, were accused as terrorists and alleged members of the CPP and NPA.

The UN experts said Tauli-Corpuz's inclusion in the list was considered an act of retaliation for statements she made about the Philippines in her mandate as Special Rapporteur.

Dainius Pūras, Chair of the Coordination Committee of Special Procedures, noted that member states of the Human Rights Council have nominated independent experts to assess the situation of human rights around the world.

"These member states, therefore, have a corresponding responsibility to secure and respect the authority and legitimacy of the UN experts, and ensure that they can fulfill their mandates in a safe and unimpeded manner, without any intimidation," he said.

Meanwhile, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders Michel Forst said the inclusion of Tauli-Corpuz and other human rights defenders in the list is tantamount to "intimidation and harassment."

Both UN experts asked the government to remove all human rights defenders from the “terrorist” list.

“While we welcome this decision, we are still deeply concerned about the continued naming of many others, including human rights defenders, in the petition, as this tags them as terrorists,” they said.

Forst said removing a few high-profile names from the list "will not make them stop drawing attention to the situation of the others, whose physical safety and integrity are still under immense pressure."


PRRD hits back at Joma: ‘You’re a discredited leader, freeloader’

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 21): PRRD hits back at Joma: ‘You’re a discredited leader, freeloader’

President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Tuesday described Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairman Jose Maria Sison as a “discredited leader” whom no one believes.

Duterte made this remark after Sison said he has been in comatose since Sunday — a rumor dispelled by the President himself by going live on Facebook on Monday night.

“You are talking nonsense. ‘Yung mga leaders dito, di naniniwala sayo (The leaders here don’t believe you),” Duterte said in his speech during the League of Municipalities of the Philippines Visayas Island Cluster Conference in Cebu City.

“You are a discredited leader…Imagine not going home for 17 years,” he added.

Sison is currently in the Netherlands, where he has been in exile since 1987.

Duterte also called Sison a “rebel that is a freeloader” for benefiting from Netherlands’ health care for free.

“You know Mr. Sison you are a refugee in that country. You do not pay anything, you are staying for free and you are sick with cancer — in and out of the hospital,” Duterte said.

He urged Sison to move to another country such as Belgium or Germany.

“They are footing the bill and you are a rebel that is a freeloader. Stop it, mahiya ka naman (you should be ashamed),” he said.

“You will never win, I assure you. ‘Pag nakita kita sa impiyerno, p*******a sampalin kita (If we see each other in hell, I’ll slap you). Don’t expect to go to heaven,” he added.

He added that if he would have a chance, he would visit Sison in the Netherlands after his trip to Israel to see once and for all who is really in coma.

“Comatose, comatose ka diyan. O sige, tingnan natin. Magpunta ako diyan. Turista lang. Galing akong Israel tingnan natin kung sinong, comatose (Let’s see. I’ll go there as a tourist. I’ll be coming from Israel. Let’s see who’s comatose),” Duterte said.

According to Duterte, Sison’s mind “is really abused by himself, nobody else.”


PH 'KAKADU' contingent to be in Australia within 6-8 days

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 21): PH 'KAKADU' contingent to be in Australia within 6-8 days

The frigate BRP Ramon Alcaraz (FF-16) and the 300-man contingent aboard her will be in Darwin, Australia within six to eight days, Philippine Navy (PN) spokesperson Cmdr. Jonathan Zata said Monday.

The unit is the Navy's participants to this year's Multilateral Regional Exercise "KAKADU" slated August 31-September 15.

"The Naval Task Force just departed for Darwin, Australia (Manila South Harbor Monday afternoon). The travel will be six to eight days," Zata said in a message to the PNA.

"Exercise KAKADU will also have a Harbor Phase where in-port training, expertise exchanges, sports and cultural interaction will take place. The Force Integration or At-Sea Phase will involve a host of surface, air and subsurface exercises where interoperability between and among participating ships will be tested and validated in a variety of scenario-driven serials," Zata said.

Around 26 countries are expected to participate in this year's "KAKADU" along with 24 naval vessels and 21 aircraft.

"(KAKADU 2018) will be participated by 24 vessels and 21 aircrafts from 26 countries. The participating countries involve including the Philippines are Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China, Fiji, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tonga, UAE, USA and Vietnam," Zata earlier said.

He added that this is the third time the PN has sent its ship to participate since the exercise began in 1993.

The first time that the PN sent a ship was in 1999 and the last was in 2014.

PN observers were also sent in 2003, 2005, and 2007. However, in 2016 the Navy was not able to participate in the above-mentioned exercise.

"KAKADU" is the 14th iteration of the multilateral naval exercise hosted biennially by the Royal Australian Navy having started in 1993.


Spike-ER missiles now formally in PH Navy service

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 21): Spike-ER missiles now formally in PH Navy service

Following the successful test-firing of the Rafael Advanced Defense Ltd. Spike-ER (extended range) surface-to-surface missiles off Lamao Point, Limay, Bataan last Aug. 9, these weapons are now formally accepted in Philippine Navy (PN) service.

This was disclosed by Navy spokesperson, Commodore Jonathan Zata, Monday when asked if the missiles are now officially accepted by the PN.

"Yes it is. The SAT (Sea Acceptance Trials) made sure that it passed the stringent parameters set up under the agreed contract between the DND (Department of National Defense) and the proponent," he added.

The Spike-ER was fired from one of the PN's three Spike-ER armed multi-purpose assault craft (MPACs) and successfully hit a floating target six kilometers away.

The MPACs were constructed by the Subic-based Propmech Corporation and activated on May 22, 2017.

Also, Zata said another test-firing is schedule with President Rodrigo R. Duterte and members of the media to witness the exercise.

"There is still (another) live demo this time with PPRD. We are still finalizing the schedule so that the media can also witness the same," he added. Earlier, Zata said the Aug. 9 exercise demonstrated the PN's capability to engage ships or "surface targets" in naval parlance.

"This provides the Navy a significant capability against surface targets. This is also a milestone as your Navy prepares to acquire more sophisticated and powerful missile and weapons system," he earlier said.

The PN MPAC Acquisition Project entered into a contract with Rafael, through SIBAT of Israel Ministry of Defense, for the supply and integration of the above-mentioned weapons systems to three Mark III MPACs.

On April 15, 2017, DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana approved the Notice to Proceed.

The Spike-ER system, which arrived in the country last April, is the PN's first missile weapon capable of penetrating 1,000 mm (39 inches) of rolled homogeneous armor and having a range of eight kilometers.


Lorenzana in Moscow to discuss areas of PH-Russia defense cooperation

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 21): Lorenzana in Moscow to discuss areas of PH-Russia defense cooperation

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana is now in Moscow, Russia to discuss possible areas of cooperation with his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoygu.

This was disclosed by DND spokesperson Arsenio Andolong late Monday when asked about Lorenzana's visit to Russia.

"The SND (Secretary of National Defense) is in Moscow upon the invitation of Russian Defense Minister and General of the Army Sergey Shoygu. He is reciprocating the visit which the latter recently paid him in the Philippines," he said in a message to the Philippine News Agency.

Lorenzana left for Russia on Aug. 16 and is expected to be back in the country on Friday.

There, the two defense chiefs will discuss possible areas of cooperation between the DND and the Russian Defense Ministry.

"They will discuss possible areas in which cooperation between the defense establishments of the Philippines and Russia may be developed and deepened," Andolong added.

In a separate message, Lorenzana said he is in Russia to look into some of the defense equipment the latter is offering.

"To look at some defense equipment they are offering: like submarines, helicopters," the DND chief said when asked on the purpose of his visit to Moscow.

In October last year, Lorenzana and Shoygu signed an Agreement for Military-Technical Cooperation between the two countries.

The document contained provisions on various areas of military and technical cooperation such as research, production support, as well as possible exchange of experts and training of personnel for joint programs.