Saturday, September 1, 2018

Washington Assures Philippines of Support for War on Terror

From BenarNews (Aug 31): Washington Assures Philippines of Support for War on Terror


A police investigator gathers evidence at the site of a bomb blast that killed three people in the southern Philippine town of Isulan in Sultan Kudarat province, Aug. 29, 2018.  AFP                

The United States assured the Philippines on Friday of continued support for Manila’s war on terror, days after a bomb attack claimed by the Islamic State left three people dead in the restive south.

President Donald Trump, through the military’s special operations forces, has been unequivocal about his government’s support of Philippine security forces on the ground, U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Molly Koscina told BenarNews.

“At the request of the government of the Philippines, U.S. special operations forces continue to assist the Armed Forces of the Philippines [AFP] in Mindanao through support that helps AFP commanders in their fight against militants,” Koscina said.

Without divulging specific details, she said U.S. support was meant to increase intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities of their Filipino counterparts.

Last year, Washington also provided crucial intelligence support to Filipino forces that defeated pro-Islamic State (IS) militants who launched the siege in the southern city of Marawi.

Philippine defense officials declared the battle over in October after five months of vicious fighting that left 1,200 dead, most of them militants.

On Tuesday, an improvised explosive device exploded in the town of Isulan, leaving three dead and dozens wounded. Last month, a suicide bombing also claimed by the IS killed 11 people on southern Basilan island.

Both claims have not been verified by the military and police. Officials said they were looking at possible involvement of local armed groups, such as the Abu Sayyaf and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

Both militant forces based in the southern Mindanao region have rejected efforts by the government to strike a peace deal with the larger Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

An Abu Sayyaf commander, Isnilon Hapilon, was the acknowledged IS head in the country, and he led the Marawi siege, attracting fighters from Southeast Asia and the Middle East. He was killed by security forces in October last year, effectively ending the Marawi fighting.

The BIFF, on the other hand, has pledged allegiance to the IS, but did not send fighters to Marawi.

The SITE Intelligence, a U.S.-based group that monitors online communications among Muslim militant groups, earlier reported that the Islamic State had claimed responsibility for the bombing of “Filipino soldiers in the capital of Sultan Kudarat.”

Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of Army’s 6th Division Commander, said on Friday that they had deployed additional forces in Isulan, the provincial capital of Sultan Kudarat, and nearby areas to head off another attack.

“We are on heightened alert for us to thwart all hostile plans of lawless elements. Our visibility, checkpoint operations, security operations and focused military operations are against BIFF,” Sobejana said.

“Actually the threat is always there. They are targeting urban centers, crowded places because this is their thrust now to gain or get support from the international terrorist organization," he said.

‘Ratify Bangsamoro law first before we decommission forces,’ says MILF commander

From the Manila Bulletin (Aug 31): ‘Ratify Bangsamoro law first before we decommission forces,’ says MILF commander

PIKIT, North Cotabato – A seasoned commander of one of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s (MILF) biggest units has assured that they were ready to be decommissioned once the Bangsamoro law is ratified, and all other remaining agreements are implemented.

“As long as the Bangsamoro law would be ratified, no problem, we are ready to be decommissioned,” Jack Abbas, chief of the MILF’s Eastern Mindanao Command, told The Manila Bulletin in an interview at his headquarters here.

Under the agreement, 30 percent of the MILF’s armed wing Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) would be decommissioned after the ratification of the Organic Law on the Bangsamoro for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (OLBARMM).

Another 35 percent of the forces and weapons will also be decommissioned after the operationalization of the Bangsamoro police, and the remaining 35 percent after the implementation of all signed agreements.

“I hope that the Bangsamoro police would be realized so that the full decommissioning would be realized as well,” the 65-year old MILF commander added.

The MILF leadership says the OLBARMM was 85 percent compliant to the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

Abbas believes that Bangsamoro Transition Commission-proposed provisions on Bangsamoro police was among those in the CAB that were not included in the approved law.

But for MILF Information Committee chair Mohagher Iqbal said that while they were not able to attain that, the MILF would just have to adapt to the provisions stated in the law.

“Pero kahit papano, yung nailagay dyan sa batas na yan, kung magamit natin ng husto palagay ko, mapakinabangan natin yan. Pag usapan natin yan,” Iqbal said referring to the Bangsamoro police provisions in a recent gathering.

Abbas said the MILF’s Eastern Mindanao Command extends from North Cotabato all the way to Davao del Sur and Davao Oriental provinces.

Though he did not disclose the actual number of forces under his unit, Manila Bulletin sources disclosed that Abbas commands at least 6,000 BIAF regulars across Eastern Mindanao.

The Eastern Mindanao Command’s headquarters is situated in the sprawling Camp Rajamuda in this town. But its operational territory spreads across its neighboring towns in Maguindanao province.

Camp Rajamuda, which is said to be the third largest MILF camp, had been a target of military campaigns in 1997, 2000 and 2003.

Proposed 2019 defense budget higher amid budget cuts in other agencies

From CNN Philippines (Aug 30): Proposed 2019 defense budget higher amid budget cuts in other agencies

Soldiers in Marawi City. (FILE PHOTO)

The proposed 2019 budget for the Department of National Defense (DND) is ₱251 billion, ₱49 billion higher than their current budget.

₱183 billion was allocated to personnel services — to increase the compensation for civilian and military personnel, as well as to provide for a pension increase for retirees.

'Yun pong increase namin malaki, ito po 'yung dagdag sa second tranche ng ating increases for personal services. Kaya po malaki," DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said during House Appropriations Committee deliberations Wednesday. [Translation: Our increase is huge. This is the addition to the second tranche of increases for personal services, and that's why it's huge]

This ₱47 billion hike is in line with President Rodrigo Duterte's directive in January to increase the salaries of military and police personnel, one of his campaign promises in 2016.

The hike comes despite a cut in the budget of other government agencies, such as the Department of Education. Its proposed funds were cut by ₱51 billion, from over ₱580 billion in 2018 to ₱528 billion in 2019.

Meanwhile, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) seeks a 30 percent increase in their 2019 budget, with the bulk of it going to the Philippine National Police.
'Martial law is working'

Lawmakers and defense officials also discussed martial law in Mindanao.

"Martial law is working in Mindanao. Although there are some pockets of trouble there like the groups of Maute, BIFF (Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters) and Abu Sayyaf in Basilan and Sulu. It is working in other fronts," he said.

He claimed getting good feedback from Mindanao citizens.

"In fact we get feedback kung pwede raw tuluy-tuloy na [it should not stop]," he added.

Lorenzana had earlier said he is open to further extending military rule in Mindanao, beyond the two extensions Congress granted in 2017.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief-of-Staff Carlito Galvez wants continuous vigilance in the region, as the ISIS-inspired Maute group responsible for the five-month Marawi City crisis is still actively recruiting members.

"Nakita po namin talaga na ang ating greatest threat would be the ISIS-Maute group. Considering their connection with Afghanistan and ISIS with Syrian ISIS talagang evident," Galvez said.

[Translation: We saw that our greatest threat is the ISIS-Maute group, considering their connection with Afghanistan and ISIS with Syrian ISIS, it's evident.]

The AFP Chief also said they can defeat the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) rebels in Mindanao as reflected in the number of surrendering insurgents.

"We are estimating that in two or three years time, we will defeat the CPP near in the near future," he added.

Galvez also affirmed Lorenzana, saying Martial law helps in improving the state of security in the Mindanao.

He said from January this year, the military was able to neutralize 800 communist rebels, and confiscate 5, 504 high-powered firearms from a number of anti-terrorism operations.

He added, about 200 members of local terrorist groups have also surrendered.

China accuses US of 'ignoring' positive efforts in South China Sea

From the Philippine Star (Aug 31): China accuses US of 'ignoring' positive efforts in South China Sea                          

"I would like to remind the US side not to purposefully turn a blind eye to China’s efforts. China will, as always, make positive efforts to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea," Chinese Ministry of Defense spokesperson Wu Qian said in a press briefing.

Insisting that its island-building activities in the South China Sea are for civilian purposes, Beijing accused Washington of "ignoring" its positive efforts to maintain peace and stability in the region.

Chinese Ministry of Defense spokesperson Senior Col. Wu Qian maintained that China's deployment of facilities are "reasonable and legitimate."

"For a period of time, the US side has been hyping up the South China Sea issue, attempting to blame China for
harming freedom of navigation in the region," Wu said in a press briefing Thursday.

Wu pointed out that it was also reasonable and legitimate for China to warn US aircraft flying over its facilities on the disputed features as they saw it as a provocation.
The Chinese Defense spokesman also claimed that freedom of navigation in the region has "never been a problem."

"I would like to remind the US side not to purposefully turn a blind eye to China’s efforts," Wu said.

Wu cited Beijing's deployment of a search and rescue ship in the Spratly Islands as an example of his claim that Washington has been ignoring the former's efforts in maintaining peace.

"However, I did not find any media coverage from the US media. As far as I know, this ship has conducted three successful rescue operations, rescuing one fishing boat and four fishermen," he said.

Earlier this month, London-based broadcast network BBC reported that Chinese military has been warning off US, as well as Philippine military aircraft, patrolling near the artificial islands in the South China Sea.

BBC went a board a US military plane where they picked up a warning from the Chinese military, urging them to leave the airspace above the Spratly Islands.

"China has sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and adjacent waters. Leave immediately and keep far off to avoid misunderstanding," a voice can be heard saying on the video.

Compared to its warning against the US aircraft, the Chinese military used a vociferous tone against the Philippine plane also flying over the area.

"Philippine military aircraft, I’m warning you again. Leave immediately or you will bear responsibility for all the consequences!" the Chinese told the Philippine plane.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said that he has raised the BBC report in his recent meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Beijing.

"I followed the president’s instructions to bring up some issues, including the BBC report and also to emphasize that while the situation has gotten better, there’s much more potential for cooperation," Cayetano told reporters in an ambush interview last Wednesday.

Among areas for potential cooperation between the Philippines and China are cooperation on fisheries and the environment, as well as possible exploration and development in the South China Sea, part of which is the West Philippine Sea.

Cayetano and Wang, however, have agreed not to set a deadline on the framework for possible joint exploration in the disputed waters.

"We talked about some of the details, we agreed not to have a deadline. But we agreed to work on it with an ASAP mentality, so that we can get it done," the DFA chief said.

Beijing sends coastguard vessels after Philippine warship runs aground in South China Sea

From the South China Morning Post (Aug 31): Beijing sends coastguard vessels after Philippine warship runs aground in South China Sea

Navy frigate is stranded on a shoal on the eastern edge of the disputed Spratlys

China has sent coastguard and rescue vessels to help with efforts to retrieve a Philippine Navy warship that ran aground on a shoal in contested waters in the South China Sea.
The BRP Gregorio del Pilar has been stranded on Half Moon Shoal, on the eastern edge of the disputed Spratly Islands, since Wednesday evening.

The reef is claimed by both China and the Philippines, and analysts said the situation may pose a dilemma for Beijing because it could be a reminder of how Manila stepped up its military presence on the Second Thomas Shoal – also in the Spratlys – nearly 20 years ago.

Chinese coastguard vessels are already at the shoal, while a search-and-rescue ship, Nan Hai Jiu 115, is also on standby in nearby waters, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Friday.
“We are discussing with the Philippine side how we can provide assistance,” Hua said.

The Philippines’ largest naval ship ran aground while on a routine patrol in the region, its Armed Forces said on Thursday.

The propellers were damaged when the ship was “grounded from bow to midship” but no one was injured in the incident, local media said, citing a military report. There were 117 crew members on board at the time.

“It is still there and the navy is still assessing damage before pulling it out,” Philippine defence secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a message to the Philippine News Agency.
China’s Nan Hai Jiu 115, or “South China Sea Rescue”, was dispatched to the Spratlys in July and has since then been permanently stationed at Subi Reef – the second largest of Beijing’s seven man-made outposts and home to a lighthouse and extensive docking facilities. The ship has a displacement of 4,400 tonnes.
The stranded Gregorio del Pilar is a 3,250-tonne Hamilton-class cutter that the Philippine Navy acquired from the US Coast Guard in 2011. It was then converted into a frigate with a helicopter, 25mm auto-cannon, 76mm cannon and machine guns.

Zhang Mingliang, a Southeast Asia specialist at Jinan University, said the best strategy for China was to “voluntarily provide assistance to pull the vessel out” before the situation changed.

“If China just sits back and watches, there is the possibility this could develop like it did in the case of the BRP Sierra Madre on the Second Thomas Shoal,” Zhang said.
He was referring to the Philippine Navy in 1999 deliberately running aground the second world war-era warship on the disputed shoal. The navy has since stationed Filipino marines on the rusting vessel to maintain its military presence in the contested area, despite Chinese protests and attempts to block supplies from getting through.

In March 2016, after a Philippine fishing boat became stranded on Jackson Atoll – which is near a Chinese base on Mischief Reef – seven PLA Navy ships blocked access to the site and a tugboat towed away the vessel. The Chinese ships then denied Filipino fishermen access to the area.

That was a few months before Manila won an arbitration case at an international tribunal in The Hague, which ruled that Beijing’s claims to almost all of the South China Sea had no legal basis – a ruling China rejected. As well as the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims to the resource-rich waterway.

“China can’t react in that kind of hardline way now – instability in the South China Sea would go against Beijing’s interests at a time when tensions are high with the United States, and also while bilateral relations with the [Philippine President Rodrigo] Duterte administration are positive,” Zhang said.

Half Moon Shoal lies at the intersection of two major sea routes in the eastern part of the South China Sea. A PLA Navy frigate ran aground in the area in 2012 and was rescued by other Chinese vessels 10 days later.

Philippines informs China of grounded frigate amid sea feud

From ABC News (Aug 31): Philippines informs China of grounded frigate amid sea feud

In this photo provided by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine Navy ship BRP Gregorio del Pilar is seen after it ran aground during a routine patrol Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018, in the vicinity of Half Moon Shoal, which is called Hasa Has

In this photo provided by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine Navy ship BRP Gregorio del Pilar is seen after it ran aground during a routine patrol Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018, in the vicinity of Half Moon Shoal, which is called Hasa Hasa in the Philippines, off the disputed Spratlys Group of islands in the South China Sea, adding that its crew was unhurt, the military said. Two officials say Friday, Aug. 31, 2018, the Philippines has notified China about a Philippine navy frigate that ran aground in the South China Sea to avoid any misunderstanding because the incident happened near a hotly disputed region. The barren shoal is on the eastern edge of the disputed Spratly archipelago. (Armed Forces of the Philippines via AP)

The Philippines notified China about a Philippine navy frigate that ran aground in the South China Sea to avoid any misunderstanding because the incident happened near a hotly disputed region, three Philippine officials said Friday.

The BRP Gregorio del Pilar ran aground during a routine patrol Wednesday night in the vicinity of Half Moon Shoal, which is called Hasa Hasa in the Philippines, the Philippine military said, adding that its crew was unhurt.

The barren shoal is on the eastern edge of the disputed Spratly archipelago, where tensions have run high in recent years after China transformed seven disputed reefs into islands, including three with runways, and reportedly installed missile defense system.

The United States and Asian governments which have claims in the region, including the Philippines, raised alarms over China's island building and militarization of the strategic territory.

The Philippines earlier was one of the most vocal critics of China's assertive moves in the disputed waters. In 2016 it largely won a complaint it lodged before an international tribunal, which invalidated Beijing's sweeping territorial claims in the South China Sea. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, however, took steps to revive once-frosty ties with China after he took office in 2016 as he sought infrastructure funding and more trade and investment from Beijing.

The three Philippine officials said China was informed of the accident through its military attache at its embassy in Manila. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss the issue publicly.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said China offered to help deal with the problem but that the Philippines can handle it.

"It was not intentional," military spokesman Col. Noel Detoyato said about the grounding, in which he said the frigate hit a shallow stretch of coral outcrop sideways.

Two Philippine tugboats were en route to extricate the frigate, Detoyato said, adding that the military deployed an aircraft to monitor the stalled ship.

A Chinese frigate ran aground on the shoal in 2012 and was pulled away by Chinese military ships.

Half Moon Shoal lies about 110 kilometers (68 miles) from the southern tip of the western Philippine island of Palawan and south of Second Thomas Shoal, where a Philippine navy transport ship was intentionally grounded in 1999 and has since served as a Philippine military outpost.

China has repeatedly demanded the removal of the now rusty BRP Sierra Madre from Second Thomas Shoal, which is claimed by the Philippines and China.

A military report seen by The Associated Press said the propellers of the BRP Gregorio del Pilar, which has more than 100 crewmembers, were damaged by the grounding. The crew checked the frigate after it ran aground and reported that it was not taking in water.

Detoyato said the frigate had minimal hull damage and its engine was running.

The frigate is one of three former U.S. Coast Guard cutters which were acquired by the Philippine military from the United States and now are the Philippines' largest warships.

Neg. Or. set for peace consciousness month

From the Visayan Daily Star (Sep 1): Neg. Or. set for peace consciousness month

The Negros Oriental Provincial Peace and Order Council has lined up a series of activities as it joins the country in observing the National Peace Consciousness Month in September, a government press release said.

The peace activities aim to raise awareness of PPOC's efforts to engage Negrenses in the peace process and in the search for a just and lasting peace in the countryside.

The 3rd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army will start the observance with military static and kinetic display, including a photo exhibit, from September 6-8 at Robinsons Place Dumaguete.

The Oriental Negros Children’s Advocate Network will hold an art for peace painting contest for children with disabilities on Sept. 8, 10 a.m., also at the mall. On Sept. 16, Army personnel and 7-A-side women will hold a football for peace activity at Camp Leon Kilat in Tanjay City.

Athletics will be played simultaneously on Sept. 22, as well as a run for peace (5k) and zumba for peace at Freedom Park, obstacle challenge at the Negros Oriental Provincial Police Office grounds in Sibulan, and the Pinoy traditional games with team players from the Army, versus PNP, together with 200 ONCAN children.

A peace caravan, from Bais City to Dumaguete City in the north, and from Siaton to Dumaguete in the south, that will meet in Dumaguete for a peace rally will be held on Sept. 28.

To highlight the activity, doves will be released as a symbol of peace, after which the multi-sectoral groups are encouraged to sign in a “Signature for Peace-Wall of Commitment” at Freedom Park in Dumaguete.

The culmination program will be held at the Macias Sports Complex in Dumaguete, also on Sept. 18, and expected at the event as guest of honor and speaker is retired Gen. Emmanuel Bautista of the Cabinet Cluster on Security, Justice and Peace of the Office of the President, the press release added.

NPA owns slay of brgy head in Manjuyod

From the Visayan Daily Star (Sep 1): NPA owns slay of brgy head in Manjuyod

The New People’s Army Mount Cansermon Command yesterday also claimed responsibility for the killing on August 30 of Mario Gonzales, barangay chairman of Panciao in Manjuyod, Negros Oriental.

Rebel spokesperson Juan Malaya, in a press statement, accused Gonzales of being an active intelligence asset of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and National Police.

Malaya alleged that Gonzales had been reporting activities of civilians suspected to be NPA to the military, since 2012.

Gonzales was the fifth barangay chairman killed in central Negros, including two in Isabela, Negros Occidental, and two in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental, since June 12 this year, police and military records show.

The 303rd Infantry Brigade has repeatedly condemned the killing rampage of the NPA in Negros Island.

Malaya said they were able to confiscate firearms from Gonzales, before his death.

He further alleged that Gonzales allowed the military to stay in Panciao barangay for six months, thathe had used in his campaign during for the election.

The death of Gonzales will serve as a warning to those who are allowing themselves to be used by the military, Malaya added.

Soldier hurt in NPA ambush in Camarines Sur

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Sep 1): Soldier hurt in NPA ambush in Camarines Sur

A soldier was wounded in an ambush by suspected members of New People’s Army (NPA) Saturday morning in Ragay town in Camarines Sur province, a police report said.

Sergeant Amador Mansion, commander of a Philippine Army detachment in Ragay, was riding a motorcycle with a man identified only by his last name Portugal, a Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (Cafgu) Active Auxiliaries member, and negotiating a road in Barangay (village) Baya going to the detachment camp when NPA rebels waylaid them with a volley of gunfire at 8:55 a.m. Saturday, according to Chief Insp. Maria Luisa Calubaquib, Bicol police spokesperson.

25 communist rebels surrender in Sultan Kudarat: military

From ABS-CBN (Sep 2): 25 communist rebels surrender in Sultan Kudarat: military

Twenty-five communist rebels surrendered in Sultan Kudarat during the last week of August, the military said Saturday.

Authorities seized 12 firearms and 2 improvised explosives from the rebels, which were members of the
New People's Army's Guerilla Front 73.

The military, in a statement, identified two of the rebels as Lumad siblings Letol Timbang, 29, and Dina Timbang, 19, who both surrendered last Wednesday.

Twenty-three more rebels surrendered on Friday, according to the 1st Mechanized Infantry Battalion.

The rebels will be presented to Sultan Kudarat Gov. Sultan Pax Mangudadatu, the military said.

It added that the government has "consistently" provided cash and livelihood aid to qualified rebels who surrendered under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program.

Lorenzana backtracks on Russian submarines

From Rappler (Aug 31): Lorenzana backtracks on Russian submarines

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana tells lawmakers the country might not be able to afford the maintenance of submarines
DEFENSE SECRETARY. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana at the House of Representatives for his agency's budget hearing on August 29, 2018. Photo by Rambo Talabong/Rappler
DEFENSE SECRETARY. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana at the House of Representatives for his agency's budget hearing on August 29, 2018. Photo by Rambo Talabong/Rappler

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has backtracked on the urgency of acquiring Russian submarines amid concerns raised against the plan.

“It is still in the planning stage,” Lorenzana told lawmakers during a budget hearing on Wednesday, August 29.

He told lawmakers the country might not be able to afford the maintenance of submarines.

“The congressman is correct that a submarine is very expensive. In the first place, the capital outlay is already very expensive. To maintain it is also very expensive. To man it, you need two sets of crews that will alternate in manning the submarine,” Lorenzana said.
He was speaking to Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano, one of the lawmakers who raised concern over the cost of the project.

Lorenzana’s answers during the budget hearing departed from his pronouncements prior to his Moscow trip last week. On August 9, he said the submarines talks “will likely” push through with Russia, which is willing to offer them on a loan.
He previously said the country may have its first submarine by 2023. (READ: PH pivot to Russia advances with port visit, submarine talks)

Prioritize surface fleet

Lorenzana said the military will instead prioritize the acquisition of more brand new surface fleet and “will decide that later on” if the country needs to acquire submarines.
“We’re looking at it on the idea that it is a good deterrent capability. If we have at least two, at nagtatago diyan, magdadalawang isip sila kung pupunta dito (hiding there, other countries will think twice about entering our territory),” said Lorenzana.

He said South Korea, France, Japan, and India are among the other countries peddling their submarines to the Philippines.

“We will still decide. Hindi pa ako decided diyan (I haven’t decided on that). We are still in the process of procuring more surface vessels,” Lorenzana said.

The Philippines is facing security challenges in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), where it has overlapping claims with several countries.

China has violated Philippine sovereign rights, according to a 2016 international tribunal ruling, by its occupation of Mischief Reef and harassment of Philippine vessels sailing to Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal. Both maritime features are inside the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone, according to the ruling.

Lorenzana said he hopes to finalize work to acquire offshore patrol vessels from an Australian company that has a shipyard in Cebu.

He said he’s also looking forward to the delivery of the Navy’s brand new frigates beginning 2020.
“By the end of the second horizon, we will have a sizeable number of surface fleet that are brand new,” said Lorenzana, referring to the stages of military modernization plans.

US protests

The country’s traditional ally, the US, earlier raised concern against the country’s plan to acquire submarines from Russia.

"If they were to proceed with purchasing major Russian equipment, I don't think that's a helpful thing to do [in our] alliance and I think ultimately we can be a better partner than the Russians can be," US Defense Assistant Secretary Randall Schriver had said. (READ: US official warns PH vs buying Russian equipment)

Three US Cabinet members – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defense Secretary James Mattis, and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross – also wrote to President Rodrigo Duterte to urge him to buy defense assets from the US.

Duterte said he was not impressed by the letter but is willing to discuss it further with the US officials.

LOOK: Japanese Navy flotilla visits Philippines

From Rappler (Sep 1): LOOK: Japanese Navy flotilla visits Philippines

The goodwill visit of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force's Escort Flotilla Four at Subic Bay will be until September 5
Photo from Naval Public Affairs Office, Philippine Navy
Photo from Naval Public Affairs Office, Philippine Navy

The Escort Flotilla Four of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) arrived at the Alava Wharf in Subic Bay on Saturday, September 1, for a goodwill visit to the Philippines.

The fleet is composed of helicopter carrier Japanese Ship (JS) Kaga (DDH-184) with 5 embarked SH-60K patrol helicopters, an Akizuki-class destroyer JS Suzutsuki (DD-117), and a Murasame-class destroyer JS Inazuma (DD-105).
Around 850 officers and crew are in the Japanese delegation, the Philippine Navy said in a statement.

President Rodrigo Duterte was set to tour JS Kaga late Saturday afternoon.
The JMSDF's visit will be until Wednesday, September 5.

Photo from Naval Public Affairs Office, Philippine Navy  
Photo from Naval Public Affairs Office, Philippine Navy


The Philippine Navy delegation headed by Commodore Antonio Palces, who is also the Commander of the Sealift Amphibious Force, welcomed the flotilla.

In a ceremony, Palces said that the Philippine and Japanese navies "share strategic partnership and common interest of a peaceful and stable region and rules-based approach to international engagements and resolution to conflict."

Rear Admiral Tatsuya Fukuda, the Japanese flotilla commander, said that the Escort Flotilla Four's deployment "is intended to improve operational capability and promote interoperability and cooperation with partner navies, while contributing to peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region."

Photo from Naval Public Affairs Office, Philippine Navy
Photo from Naval Public Affairs Office, Philippine Navy

A series of confidence-building activities between the two navies will take place in the following days, said the Philippine Navy. These include courtesy calls, a shipboard tour, lectures, reciprocal receptions, and sports events.

PH military capable of retrieving grounded Navy ship

From Rappler (Sep 1): PH military capable of retrieving grounded Navy ship
'Surface and underwater assessments are being done to come up with the right plan of retrieval,' says AFP Spokesman Colonel Noel Detoyato
GREGORIO RUNS AGROUND. BRP Gregorio del Pilar, one of the Philippine Navy's most capable warships, runs aground in Palawan on August 29, 2018. Photo courtesy of PAOAFP
GREGORIO RUNS AGROUND. BRP Gregorio del Pilar, one of the Philippine Navy's most capable warships, runs aground in Palawan on August 29, 2018. Photo courtesy of PAOAFP

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said on Saturday, September 1, that it is capable of retrieving Philippine Navy warship BRP Gregorio Del Pilar which ran aground at Hasa-Hasa (Half Moon) Shoal in the South China Sea.

AFP Spokesman Colonel Noel Detoyato confirmed this in a press briefing on Saturday, when asked if the Philippine military can extricate the vessel on its own.

"Yes. Initial assessment has been made by FF15 crew and divers from PCG MRRV-4407," he said.

FF15 refers to BRP Gregorio Del Pilar while MRRV-4407 refers to the Philippine Coast Guard's BRP Sindangan.

"They are now planning the method of retrieval or extraction based on the gathered data by the divers," Detoyato added.

He declined to answer questions about an offer from China to help in the ship's retrieval as "it's a foreign relations issue," and referred the query to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

The AFP spokesman said Commodore Rommel Galang was designated as onsite commander to manage, supervise, and direct the retrieval operations under Joint Task Force Goyong, which also involves the Philippine Air Force.

"While waiting for the tugboats and other PCG and Vavy platforms to arrive, surface and underwater assessments are being done to come up with the right plan of retrieval," Detoyato said.

BRP Gregorio del Pilar, one of the country's most capable warships, ran aground in the shoal off the coast of Palawan on Wednesday, August 29.

For his part, Philippine Navy spokesman Commodore Jonathan Zata said that "no formal word" has reached the Navy yet regarding the reported offer.

Zata also said he would have to verify first some reports of Chinese ships near the area.

NPA militiaman gives up

From the Mindanao Times (Sep 1): NPA militiaman gives up

A Militia ng Bayan member of the New People’s Army (NPA) surrendered to authorities in Tampakan, South Cotabato on Thursday.

Maj. Ewin Felongco, the acting civil-military operations officer of the 1002nd Infantry Brigade, said Jonathan Pilay Dawang, alias Ka Caloy, a member of Yunit Milisya (Yumil), surrendered to the joint elements of the 27th Infantry Battalion and the South Cotabato Provincial Police Office in Tampakan on Aug. 30.

Felongco said the surrender was made possible through the help of the local government unit of Tampakan.

Lt. Col. Jones Otida, the commander of the 27IB, said Dawang, 32, a resident of Sitio Tukay-mal, Barangay Tablu, was convinced by his family and barangay officials to surrender.

Otida said Dawang was a member of Yumil under Guerilla Front 72 that operates in the quad-boundaries of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Davao del Sur and Sarangani provinces.

Dawang also surrendered one carbine rifle and two improvised explosive devices with two blasting cap and electric wire.

“I surrendered because I wanted to have normal and peaceful life with my family,” Dawang said. “I don’t want to experience hardships and difficulties anymore.”

The returnee said he feared that he might be killed in an encounter.

“Besides, the people here don’t want NPA anymore to enter in our barangay,” said Dawang who is now undergoing custodial debriefing.

He will be enrolled to the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) after verification and validation processes.

Otida said Dawang will be receiving same benefits as a regular NPA member in E-CLIP.

He will be provided with P21,000 reintegration assistance, P15,000 immediate assistance, P50,000 livelihood assistance, additional cash for his surrendered firearms and the most important, housing program for his family.

Peace Consciousness Month on September

From the Mindanao Times (Sep 1): Peace Consciousness Month on September

The Mindanao Peace Council is urging the public to join in the activities during the Peace Consciousness Month this September.

“We will be starting it with a kick off activity (this) Sunday with a fun run for the benefit of a Lumad School in Sitio Inamong, Arakan,” said MPC’s Hope Fernandez.

On Sept. 11-13, there will also be a Peace Fair at Abreeza.

On Sept. 28, a peace concert dubbed Huni sa Kalinaw will take place at Rizal Park.

Delegations from Aparri to Jolo will be presenting their peace aspiration to President Rodrigo Duterte who is set to be the guest speaker during the concert.

“We encourage everyone to also have your own activities to celebrate the Peace Consciousness Month with the theme ‘Peace Na Tayo! Mithiing Kapayapaan Sama-samang Isakatapuran’,” Fernandez said.

“It is also an opportunity to improve more heighten the awareness of the public on the state of the peace process of the country,” she furthered.

The MPC is a partner non-government office (NGO) of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).

Gunmen kill 4 people, seize couple in Zamboanga town

From the Mindanao Examiner (Sep 1): Gunmen kill 4 people, seize couple in Zamboanga town

Gunmen clad in camouflage uniform seized a Filipino couple and killed four people, including a government militia, who tried to stop them in the town of Sirawai in the southern province of Zamboanga del Norte.

The fate of the duo, Rufo, 62; and Helen Roda, 64, is unknown, but they were abducted in the village of Piakan late Friday afternoon by a group of gunmen, believed to be rebels.

The gunmen also seized 3 civilians and used them as shield against pursuing soldiers and eventually killed them along the way. No individual or group claimed responsibility for the abduction and slaying of the four people, but security forces continue Saturday its operation to rescue the victims.

There were no details about the two hostages or whether they are traders or belong to an affluent family in the town.

Last June 28, gunmen also kidnapped 6 people, including an infant, from a farm in San Nicolas village in Sirawai town and demanded P400,000 for their safe release.

The victims, Feliciano Javier, 28; his wife Elsa, 28, and their five-month old baby Vincent; and Junior Javier, 22, and wife Rica, also 22-years old and their five-year old son Val, are keepers of farm owned by Valiente Tolo Felizarta, the town’s municipal engineer. They were eventually released in Gata village in Talipao town in Sulu province two weeks later and fetched by soldiers.

6 killed, 2 abducted as militiamen, gunmen clash in Zambo Norte

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 1): 6 killed, 2 abducted as militiamen, gunmen clash in Zambo Norte

Six people, including a militiaman, were killed while a child was wounded following a clash by militiamen and unidentified gunmen in a remote area in Zamboanga del Norte, an official disclosed Saturday.

Chief Supt. Edwin de Ocampo, deputy regional director for administration of Police Regional Office 9 (Zamboanga Peninsula), said the gunmen also used two individuals as human shields during the clash that occurred in Piacan, a coastal barangay in Sirawai, Zamboanga del Norte, at about 6:05 p.m. Friday.

De Ocampo said the clash broke out as the militiamen - based at the Piacan detachment - responded to the reported arrival of five unidentified gunmen, clad in camouflage uniforms, at the village's shore.

He said the clash resulted in the death of a militiaman and five civilians hit in the crossfire. The fatalities were identified as Amsid Callun, the militiaman; Absar Gumba; Kabiran Ginsing; Saddam Tahir; Jaayri Lumihig; and Muslimin Adan.

The wounded minor was identified as Jering Carbi, whose age was not immediately known.

De Ocampo said the gunmen seized Rufo Roda and his wife, Helen, and used them as human shields as they escaped. Rufo is also a militiaman.

The gunmen fled with the couple on motorboats.

Police units in Zamboanga del Norte, in coordination with military authorities, have already launched an operation to track down the whereabouts of the Roda couple.

De Ocampo said the Zamboanga Coast Guard has deployed two Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats to assist the police and military forces in their search for the gunmen.

Explosives, ammunitions destroyed in Iloilo

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 1): Explosives, ammunitions destroyed in Iloilo

BLASTED. Explosives and ammunitions were detonated by bomb squads at the headquarters of the 602nd Mobile Force Company at the village of Guadalupe,Janiuay,Iloilo on Saturday morning (September 1, 2018). (Photo by Cindy Ferrer)

ILOILO CITY -- A total of 125 explosives and ammunitions were detonated at the headquarters of the 602nd Mobile Force Company in Guadalupe village, Janiuay, Iloilo province on Saturday morning.

Some 37 of these explosives were rifle grenades that were surrendered through the "May Kwarta sa Granada" or G1 Project (PHP1,000 per grenade) conceptualized by the Iloilo City Advisory Council, said Chief Supt. John Bulalacao, director of Police Regional Office 6 (Western Visayas).

“This is one of their best practices. Somehow, we are helping people to be safe in their areas by getting rid of unnecessary things in their possession, like grenades," he said. "These are very dangerous if they do not know how to handle these grenades."

Launched last January 16, the program aims to entice the community to turn over grenades and other unexploded ordnances that have been in their possession.

The owners of the surrendered grenades are entitled to PHP1,000.

Bomb squads of the Explosive Ordnance and Disposal Unit of the Iloilo City Police Office and PRO-6 led the disposal of the explosives here.

Nelson Uygongco, chairman of the Iloilo City Advisory Council, was also present.

Aside from the surrendered rifle grenades, they also disposed of other explosives and ammunitions that were previously recovered from different areas in Iloilo City.

Bulalacao said the project could help solve crime because in their encounters with illegal drug suspects, they saw that the latter were using grenades.

"I do not know where they get these grenades but possessing these grenades would mean serious threat on the safety of the community," he said.

He added that the disposal of explosives and ammunitions is also a preemptive measure in response to the incidents in other regions where there were reported bomb explosions, such as in Sultan Kudarat a few days ago.

Bulalacao further urged people, who have explosives in their possession, to surrender them through their local chief executives, village officials, and municipal police office.

"If ever it will be recovered in their possessions, definitely they will be in violation of Republic Act No. 9156 (Illegal Possession of Explosives) and depending on the decision of the fiscal and the court, in possession of explosives has no bail," he said.

Police release sketch of Isulan bombing suspect

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 1): Police release sketch of Isulan bombing suspect

Police authorities have released the computerized cartographic sketch of the man who set off a powerful improvised bomb in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat that killed three and wounded 36 others on August 28.

Police Regional Office 12 (Soccsksargen) Director, Chief Supt. Eliseo Tam Rasco, emailed the cartographic sketch to various media outlets here Saturday, four days after the deadly bomb attack that took place during the town’s foundation anniversary and Hamungaya festival.

Rasco said the suspect, who eluded arrest by a militiaman shortly before the 8:30 p.m. bomb attack along rows of used clothing stalls in Barangay Kalawag, Isulan, was a male described to be 20 years to 25 years old, 5 ft. 6 inches tall, about 60 kg., medium built and white complexion.

All activities related to the town fiesta had been canceled following the bombing incident.

“The suspect detonated the IED (improvised explosive device) using a mobile phone while evading the militiaman who accosted him after he placed the package under a parked motorbike,” said Senior Supt. Oliver Enmodias, PRO-12 deputy director for operations and head of the Special Investigation Task Group Hamungaya.

The IED was made of black powder placed inside a barrel of water pump filled with cut nails and metal shards, with a nine-volt battery as triggering device.

Rasco said the bomber might have had accomplices because one person could not plan such type of attack.

“The horrific attacks in Isulan served as a strong reminder of the continued threat that terrorism poses, both to our people and to our way of life, and the only way to counter terrorism is through our concerted effort,” he said.

A day after the bombing, a computer-generated cartographic sketch of the suspect circulated on social media and Facebook. However, Supt. Aldrin Gonzales, speaking for police in Region 12, said the circulated social media sketch of the suspect was not the official sketch created by police investigators.

“That was done by somebody who wanted to muddle the investigation,” Gonzales said.

Philippine National Police Director General Oscar Albayalde, during his recent visit to the blast site, told reporters that probers are given ample time to finish their job.

“No time frame but it must be as soon as possible,” Albayalde said, adding that probers are focusing on the alleged involvement in the incident of the Islamic State-linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) operating mainly in Maguindanao.

Sultan Kudarat Governor Pax Mangudadatu has offered a PHP1-million reward to anyone who can provide information that could lead to the arrest of the perpetrator.

15 'disgruntled' NPA members yield in Sultan Kudarat

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 1): 15 'disgruntled' NPA members yield in Sultan Kudarat

Government troopers accept a surrendered firearm from the New People’s Army members during the turnover ceremonies held Friday (Aug. 31) in Sitio Kisaday, Barangay Kuden, Senator Ninoy Aquino, Sultan Kudarat. A total of 15 NPA rebels yielded to authorities after getting tired of fighting for a futile cause. (Photo by 6ID)
CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao – A total of 15 members of the New People’s Army (NPA) surrendered to authorities in Senator Ninoy Aquino, Sultan Kudarat on Friday.

Capt. Arvin John Encinas, spokesperson of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said the rebels yielded to the Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion (IB), 1st Mechanized IB; Marine Battalion Landing Team-2, and local police force in Sitio Kisaday, Barangay Kuden, Senator Ninoy Aquino at about 3 p.m.

The surrenderers consisted of members of the Yunit Militia, Kilusang Rebolusyunaryong Barangay, and My Phone Platoon, all belonging to the NPA’s Guerilla Front 73 operating in the peripheries of Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, and South Cotabato provinces.
The rebel returnees brought with them one M1 Garand, two Uzi machine pistols, one .38 caliber pistol, and two improvised explosive devices.

“The surrenderers are currently undergoing debriefing at the battalion headquarters of 33IB at Barangay Tual in President Quirino,” Encinas said Saturday.

He said the rebels decided to return to the fold of the law because of the hardship they have experienced in hiding at the mountainous area of Sultan Kudarat while evading government troops.

“They also came to realize the false promises of their communist leaders,” Encinas added.

Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, the Army’s 6th Infantry Division commander, welcomed the return of the new batch of rebels to mainstream society, saying they are eligible for the benefits package under the government’s Enhance Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) for surrendering insurgents.

Under the E-CLIP, the surrenderers will receive an immediate assistance amounting to PHP15,000, firearm remuneration based on the type of surrendered firearms, and a PHP50,000 livelihood assistance.

“We expect more NPAs to surrender due to the ongoing Army and police pursuit operations against them in the mountains of South Central Mindanao,” Sobejana said.

Village chief shot dead in Bulacan

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 1): Village chief shot dead in Bulacan

CITY OF SAN JOSE DEL MONTE, Bulacan -- A barangay (village) chairman was shot dead in front of a barangay hall here Friday night.

San Jose del Monte City police chief Supt. Fitz Macariola identified the victim as Barangay San Rafael II chairman, Deogracias Milallos, 58.

“The victim was in front of the barangay hall when shot by an unidentified armed suspect several times in different parts of his body. He was rushed to the nearest hospital but pronounced dead later,” Macariola said.

The victim was reportedly talking with other village officials - identified as Edelito de Mesa, Ricardo de Castro, and Elmerito Atanacio - when he was attacked.

Milallos was the third barangay chairman to be killed in the province this year.

Genaro Lopez, barangay chief of Labne, San Miguel, Bulacan was shot dead on May 25, 2018 by his motorcycle-riding assailants in front of a restaurant in Barangay Mojon, Malolos City.

On the other hand, village chairman Rodrigo Rodriguez of Mabalasbalas, San Rafael, Bulacan, was also killed in broad daylight on April 26, 2018 by riding-in-tandem gunmen.

DND chief commends 2ID troops’ gains in anti-insurgency ops

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 1): DND chief commends 2ID troops’ gains in anti-insurgency ops

Department of National Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana (right) with Major General Rhoderick M. Parayno (left), Commander of the Philippine Army’s 2nd Infantry “Jungle Fighter” Division (2ID) troop the line during the military arrival honors at the 2ID quadrangle during his visit to the 2ID, Camp Gen. Mateo Capinpin, Tanay, Rizal on Aug. 31, 2018. (Photo courtesy of 2ID-DPAO)

CAMP GEN. MATEO CAPINPIN, Tanay, Rizal -- Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana on Friday commended troops for the success of their anti-insurgency operations but at the same time reminded them to also uphold human rights.

Lorenzana visited the Philippine Army’s 2nd Infantry “Jungle Fighter” Division (2ID) in this camp to grace the inauguration of the 2ID’s Division Training School (2DTS) administration building, training pool, view deck, and park.

The defense chief was accorded the traditional military honors at the division quadrangle with Major General Rhoderick M. Parayno, 2ID Commander.

Lorenzana commended the efforts of the soldiers in maintaining peace and security in the region, specially against the threats from the New People’s Army (NPA).

He underscored the government's resolve to attain just and lasting peace in the country, citing the program for rebels who surrendered, laid down their arms and returned to the fold of the law under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).

“Under the E-CLIP, a former rebel can receive cash and livelihood assistance, firearms remuneration, access to housing, loans, medical and legal assistance among others. It also includes educational benefits which can be extended to the rebel’s immediate family members,” the DND chief said.

He mentioned about the 13 rebels who surrendered last August 14 and now recipients of the E-CLIP in the 2ID’s area of responsibility, especially from Batangas.

Lorenzana was with Department of the Interior and Local Government OIC-Secretary Eduardo Año, who officiated the mass oath-taking of the rebel surrenderers as they took their “Oath of Allegiance” in recognition of the Philippine government’s authority, in Tanauan City.

In his address, he reminded the soldiers about the importance of respecting human rights, as he spelled out President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s plans and programs for the welfare of the soldiers and boost their morale.

Team to look into Navy flagship grounding

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 1): Team to look into Navy flagship grounding

An investigating and assessment team has been formed to look into the grounding of the Philippine Navy flagship, BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (FF-15), off Hasa-Hasa Shoal in Palawan province on Wednesday night.

This was confirmed by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief Col. Noel Detoyato in an interview late Friday.

The team, formed by Navy flag officer-in-command Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad, is “expected to be aboard the ship anytime Saturday," Detoyato said in Filipino.

He said the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar is recoverable as no hull penetration has been reported.

"There is very minimal damage to the hull," Detoyato said, noting that damage seems to be confined to the starboard (right) propeller of the ship.

The Philippine Coast Guard's BRP Sindangan (MRRV 4407) arrived at the site of the grounding at 11 a.m. Friday and will be joined by the BRP Cabra (MRRV 4409) anytime soon to render assistance in case non-essential personnel need to be moved to lighten the ship.

The BRP Nestor Reinoso (PG-380) is also on hand to provide help, Detoyato said.

Earlier, he said two tugboats have left Batangas, one on Thursday and the other on Friday, to help in the recovery operations.

The BRP Gregorio Del Pilar is one of three Hamilton-class cutters acquired by the Philippine Navy from the United States Coast Guard and converted into frigates.

These ships have a gross tonnage of 3,250 tons, length of 378 feet, beam of 43 feet, and draft of 15 feet while its propulsion systems consist of two diesel engines and two gas turbine engines, giving it a top speed of 29 knots.

These vessels have a cruising range of 14,000 miles and a sea and loiter time of 45 days. They are armed with a 76-mm. Oto Melara automatic cannon, 25-mm. and 20-mm. light cannons, and .50-caliber machine guns.

Gov’t allots P3.8-B for Coast Guard upgrade

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 1): Gov’t allots P3.8-B for Coast Guard upgrade

The Duterte administration is earmarking PHP3.8 billion to the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) for the purchase of new ships, patrol boats, firearms, and other equipment, Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence ‘Bong’ Go said Friday.

“Mahigit 3 billion program na nakalatag. Mapupunta iyon sa mga bagong barko, patrol boats, armas at iba pang equipment (More than PHP3 billion has been set aside. It will go towards the purchase of ships, patrol boats, firearms, and other equipment),” he said in an interview.

He added that PCG Commandant Admiral Elson Hermogino would be scouting for new equipment that could be procured for the Coast Guard when he accompanies President Rodrigo R. Duterte in his official visit to Israel next week.

Go made the remark after speaking at the Coast Guard District in Southeastern Mindanao's (CGDSEM) 33rd founding anniversary in this city.

In his speech, he said the Coast Guard plays an important role in the Duterte administration’s campaign against drugs, corruption, and crime.

“Maraming salamat sa suporta n’yo. Kung di dahil sa inyo, mahihirapan ang gobyerno. Nakikiusap ako na suportahan niyo ang Pangulo sa kampanya laban sa droga, korapsyon, at kriminalidad (Thank you for your support. Without you, the government would have a hard time. I ask you to continue to support the President in his campaign against drugs, corruption, and crime),” he said.

Go added that he is honored to be inducted as a member of the Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary (PCGA).

“I am honored, I am proud na maging kasama sa Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary. Papaano po kami makatulong sa ating karagatan, sa ating mga coastline, pangalagaan natin ang ating karagatan (I am honored, I am proud to be part of the Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary. We will help maintain our waters, our coastline. We will take care of our waters),” he said.

Go also praised the CGDSEM for its role in guarding Davao City during the Kadayawan Festival earlier this month, saying its members worked hard to perform their task.

Addressing those who were given awards like Enlisted Personnel (EP) of the Year, Station of the Year, Sub-station of the Year, Coast Guard Auxiliary Southeastern Mindanao (CGADSEM) of the Year, and CGADSEM Squadron of the Year, Go said the best asset of the Coast Guard is its personnel.

“To the awardees, tandaan nyo na ang mga award ay hindi lamang dekorasyon sa inyong mga uniform kundi simbolo ng reponsibilidad ninyo (remember that these awards are not just decorations for your uniforms but are symbols of your responsibilities). May they motivate you to strive harder. Excel at all times. Rise above yourselves. Be an inspiration to others,” he said.

Meanwhile, Go clarified in a media interview that even though it is part of the Department of Transportation (DOTr), entry positions of the Coast Guard are included in the base pay increase, along with the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Department of National Defense, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, Bureau of Fire Protection, and the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority.

“I just want to make it clear na ang Coast Guard po ay kasama, yung mga entry position, sa base pay increase. That includes the Philippine National Police at ang ating Armed Forces. Kasama rin dito ang BJMP, ang Bureau of Fire, including the Coast Guard po. Kahit na po under sila ng DOTr, they are considered the same (I just want to make it clear that the entry positions in the Coast Guard are included in the base pay increase. That includes the Philippine National Police, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology and Bureau of Fire Protection are also included in the base pay increase, as well as the Coast Guard, even if it is under the Department of Transportation),” he said. (OSAP Media)