Friday, February 14, 2020

MNLF man nabbed for unlicensed gun in Sarangani

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 14, 2020): MNLF man nabbed for unlicensed gun in Sarangani (By Richelyn Gubalani)

Lt. Col. Neil Wadingan, chief of Glan municipal police station. (File photo courtesy of the Police Regional Office 12)

Police arrested an alleged member of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) for carrying an unlicensed firearm during a “community assembly” in a village in Glan town, Sarangani province on Thursday.

Lt. Col. Neil Wadingan, chief of the Glan municipal police station, i
dentified the suspect as Abdul Kadir Tulantingan, who reportedly holds the rank of major in the “MNLF Army” based on his identification card.

Wadingan said they initially received a report from concerned residents at about 6:30 a.m. Thursday about the presence of the armed suspect in a resort in Barangay Gumasa.

He said Tulantingan was reportedly seen in a meeting of alleged MNLF members, holding a clutch bag containing an unspecified firearm. He said they immediately responded to the scene along with elements of the Maritime police unit and found the suspect carrying a caliber .45 pistol with seven live bullets.

“He failed to show any registration document and permit to carry the firearm,” Wadingan said in a report released on Friday.

At least 12 other men were present at the meeting but were neither armed nor carrying any illegal item, he added.

Citing accounts from attendees, Wadingan said the meeting was allegedly called by a former politician, whose identity was withheld, to discuss the MNLF’s recruitment of new members in the area.

He said the planned recruitment activity was reportedly in connection with the purported creation of an “MNLF municipality” in Glan.

Wadingan said they would file charges for violation of Article 146 of the Revised Penal Code or illegal assembly against the organizers of the meeting.

He said Tulantingan, who was detained at the Glan police station lockup, would be charged with violation of Republic Act 10591 or illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.

NPA influence in Agusan Norte schools 'alarming,' Army says

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 14, 2020): NPA influence in Agusan Norte schools 'alarming,' Army says (By Alexander Lopez)

COUNTERING NPA RECRUITMENT. Lt. Col. Francisco Molina, Jr. (standing, front), commander of the Army's 23rd Infantry Battalion, leads an information drive against the recruitment of the New People’s Army in Barangay Manoligao, Carmen, Agusan del Norte on Wednesday (Feb. 12, 2020). The activity was participated in by 160 students in the village. (PNA photo by Alexander Lopez)

BUENAVISTA, Agusan del Norte – A top official of the Philippine Army in Agusan del Norte said the influence of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) has already reached inside the elementary and high school campuses in the province.

Lt. Col. Francisco L. Molina Jr., 23IB commander, said the confirmation was made after the series of campaigns made by the Army's 23rd Infantry Battalion in various schools in the area, and described the situation as "alarming".

"In each school where we conducted campaigns to save the children from NPA recruitment, around 10 percent of them were already influenced by the rebels,” Molina told the Philippine News Agency on Thursday (February 13).

Molina spearheaded two information drive activities on Wednesday (February 12) held in Barangay Manoligao, Carmen town that was attended by 160 students.

“Most of the influenced students are in senior high school,” Molina said.

He said the 23IB has already conducted 10 campaigns against NPA recruitment in different schools in Agusan del Norte, to include four schools in the town of Nasipit, two in Buenavista, and four in Carmen.

“We require junior and senior high school students to attend the campaigns seeing that these ages are the most vulnerable to the recruitment of the NPA,” Molina said.

At the start of each lecture, he said they would ask the students to write their impressions and thoughts about the NPA.

“We do not require them to write their names on the paper. We just allow them to write about their ideas of the NPA and the results were chilling,” Molina said.

He noted that most of those in the 10 percent considered as influenced by communist ideology regarded the NPA as "heroes" who sacrifice their lives for the country.

NPA INFLUENCE. Photo shows the handwritten impressions of several students in Agusan del Norte of the communist New People’s Army (NPA), the majority of whom indicated sympathy and even support for the communist rebel group. The notes were collected by the military during a series of information drives meant to counter NPA's recruitment of students in all schools in the province. (PNA photo by Alexander Lopez)

Molina said that the series information drives on campuses are part of the "whole-of-Nation approach" to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC) mandated under Executive Order No. 70 issued by President Rodrigo Duterte.

“The war against the communist NPA is no longer the sole responsibility of the Army and the police. All government line agencies and the other stakeholders are part of the whole approach to end the communist insurgency,” he pointed out.

The Department of Education (DepEd) is part of the ELCAC task force in regional, provincial, and municipal levels, and is tasked to educate the students on EO 70 and the concept of the "whole-of-nation" approach.

However, Molina said that some teachers in the province are not aware of EO 70 issued by President Duterte.

“We asked some teachers about EO 70 and it is disheartening to note that a number of them are not aware of it; they have no idea about the whole-of-nation approach,” he said.

He added that the DepEd in the local levels has the 'responsibility to cascade" the provisions of EO 70 and its underlying principles to the teachers.

NPA recruitment schemes

Molina said the NPA recruiters usually disguise themselves as "friends" when they do their rounds on school campuses.

“They can effectively utilize such disguise when they personally meet the students they target to recruit, either outside or inside the school campus,” he added.

Molina said NPA recruitment also takes place within the family of the victim, citing the case of Litboy Binungcasan, the 16-year-old NPA from Sitio Siohan, Barangay Malinao, Gingoog City, who was killed in an encounter late November last year in the hinterlands of Butuan City.

“Litboy was recruited by his own uncle but his mother was not aware that he was already an NPA combatant,” he added, adding it was "upsetting to note that there are cases where teachers themselves recruit young students to join the NPA".

Molina pointed out that Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Ma. Sison once declared that the forces of the communist movement in the country are composed of different sectors--from the farmers, the labor groups, the professionals, including the teachers.

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) is among the identified fronts of the communist movement in the country, the Army official said. ACT has repeatedly denied this allegation.

NPA recruitment among students on school campuses happen when teachers, particularly members of ACT, serve as facilitators, Molina said.

“The DepEd, which is part of the task forces in the regional and provincial levels of ELCAC, must act on this situation in Agusan del Norte,” he said, as he raised the "difficulties" they experienced whenever they conduct anti-NPA recruitment campaigns in schools.

“We often hit some snags in the school levels in barangays, such as giving us difficulties before allowing us to talk to the students, despite the fact that higher DepEd officials in the municipal and provincial levels had previously approved our activity,” Molina noted.

The problems they encountered, he added, were indications of the influence of the group ACT at the school levels in barangays.

Despite this, Molina said the teachers play a major role in saving young students from joining the communist rebel movement.

Continuing campaign

Despite the hindrances met in previous activities, Molina vowed the campaigns in school campuses in Agusan del Norte will continue.

“We must cut the influence (of the NPA) among our eradicate the communist ideology. This can be done when all the stakeholders work together,” he said, as he expressed gratitude for the "constant support of the local government units" to the campaign.

“Governor Dale Corvera and Congresswoman Angel Amante-Matba have signified their steady support to our efforts to save our children from the deception of the NPA,” he said.

Molina added that a scheduled "cascading activity" on EO 70 and the "whole-of-nation" approach is set to be joined by DepEd officials and teachers in the province.

“As guardians of our students while inside school campuses, we must equip our teachers with the knowledge of EO 70 and the whole-of-nation approach. Our teachers play vital roles in guarding students from the influence and recruitment of the NPA,” Molina said.

The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

Test-firing of BRP Jose Rizal's main gun successful

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 14, 2020): Test-firing of BRP Jose Rizal's main gun successful (By Priam Nepomuceno)

TEST FIRING. BRP Jose Rizal's is seen test-firing its 76mm Oto Melara Super Rapid main gun off South Korean waters on Wednesday (Feb. 12, 2020). This is part of sea trials which are the last phase of construction prior to the frigate’s delivery to the Philippines scheduled tentatively in April or May this year. (Photo courtesy of Naval Public Affairs Office)

Test-firing of the 76-mm main gun of the country's first purposedly designed missile frigate, BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150), was successfully concluded off South Korean waters on Wednesday.

Philippine Navy (PN) public affairs office chief, Lt. Commander Maria Christina Roxas, said the test-firing of BRP Jose Rizal's Oto Melara Super Rapid main gun successfully went off during sea trials as per reports from PN representatives who witnessed the test.

"The recent one was yesterday (Wednesday) and that is our fifth sea trial. We conducted a structural test firing of our main gun (76mm Oto Melara Super Rapid SR main gun) with 12 rounds of ammunition. This is to check the effect of the main gun in the structure of the ship,"
Roxas said in a message late Thursday.

Roxas said the sixth sea trials involving the ship's combat systems (weapons and sensors), integrated platform management system and endurance test of the frigate will commence on February 17.

The third and fourth sea trials took place in the third week of January that involves testing the communications and navigational equipment of the BRP Jose Rizal and also went successfully.

The ship's first and second sea trials took place in November and December last year, respectively, which involves the vessel's general seaworthiness and propulsion and associated systems, including its radars.

BRP Jose Rizal has a maximum designed speed of 25 knots and a cruising speed of 15 knots and a range of 4,500 nautical miles.

The sea trials are the last phase of construction prior to the frigate’s delivery to the Philippines scheduled tentatively in April or May this year.

BRP Jose Rizal was launched at the Hyundai Heavy Industries shipyard in Ulsan May 23, 2019. The contract for the BRP Jose Rizal and its sister ship, the BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151), is placed at PHP16 billion with another PHP2 billion for weapon systems and munitions.

These ships are capable of conducting anti-air warfare (AAW), anti-surface warfare (ASUW), anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and electronic warfare (EW) operations.

BRP Gregorio del Pilar propeller hub to arrive in July

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 14, 2020): BRP Gregorio del Pilar propeller hub to arrive in July (By Priam Nepomuceno)

BRP Gregorio del Pilar. (File photo)

The propeller hub of the offshore patrol vessel, BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PS-15), which was damaged following its grounding off Hasa-Hasa Shoal in August 2018, will be delivered in July.

"The propeller hub we ordered from (the) US will arrive (in) July this year so after that, there will be (a) sea trial (once it is installed),"
Philippine Navy public information officer, Lt. Commander Maria Christina Roxas, said in a message late Thursday.

The ship has been undergoing repair and upgrades while in dry dock in Subic Bay, Zambales.

Roxas said the repair and upgrades for the BRP Gregorio del Pilar were expected to be completed by the fourth quarter of 2020, making the ship ready for service.

The propeller hub is the center portion of a propeller to which the blades are attached and connects them to the ship's engine.

One of the ship's two propellers was damaged, along with its hub, following its grounding.

The BRP Gregorio del Pilar and two of its sister ships, the BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS-16) and BRP Andres Bonifacio (PS-17), are former US Coast Guard Hamilton-class cutters and were converted into frigates and then offshore patrol vessels.

These ships have a gross tonnage of 3,250 tons, a length of 378 feet, a beam of 43 feet, and a 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.

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