Friday, February 12, 2021

AFP Chief expresses alarm over China’s coast guard threats to fire at foreign vessels

Posted to the Mindanao Examiner (Feb 12, 2021): AFP Chief expresses alarm over China’s coast guard threats to fire at foreign vessels

THE PHILIPPINES expressed alarm over China’s new law allowing its coast guard to fire at foreign vessels to assert its sovereignty in disputed waters in the South China Sea, raising temperatures in the strategic waterway, the military chief said.

Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana said the Filipino fishermen venture into rich fishing grounds in the South China Sea to make a living and not to provoke a conflict with China which claimed almost the entire sea based on historical accounts.

“Yung pronouncement ng China na their guard coast can open fire to people intruding into their territory, it is very alaming po yan. I should say it’s very irresponsible statement dahil hindi naman tayo, ang ating mga kababayan ay hindi naman pumunta sa lugar na yan, sa disputed area para makikipag-gyera kungdi naghahanap buhay,” he said.

Sobejana said the military will increase its presence, deploying more naval ships to protect local fishermen from harassment. I just want to make clear that our navy presence there is not to wage war against China but to secure our own people,” he added.

There had been numerous incidents in the past when Chinese coast guard ships fired water cannons to drive away local fishermen. In 2019, a Chinese ship rammed and sank a local fishing boat in the Reed Bank, an area within the country’s 200-mile exclusive economic zone.

Fishermen groups were worried China’s coast guard could use a more lethal weapon against them in Scarborough Shoal and other disputed areas in the South China Sea

The Philippines and China are locked in a maritime dispute over the sea where more than 3 trillion worth of seaborne goods pass every year. Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam have conflicting claims on the areas believed to have rich deposits of energy resources.

China’s embassy in Manila assured the law was not directed at any country and conforms to international law. Security experts said China has the rights to impose its sovereignty in its territorial water, but could become a problem in disputed areas, raising tensions not only with claimant-states but with other extra regional powers which patrol the areas, like the United States.

It could raise the possibility of accidents and miscalculations that could lead into limited conflict. (Manny Mogato, News5)

Washington reaffirms commitment to Manila

Posted to the Mindanao Examiner (Feb 12, 2021): Washington reaffirms commitment to Manila

U.S. SECRETARY of Defense Lloyd Austin III and his Filipino counterpart Secretary Defense Delfin Lorenzana recently spoke on the phone and discussed a number of priority of bilateral defense issues for both countries.

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said Austin affirmed Washington’s commitment to U.S.-Philippine alliance and bilateral Mutual Defense Treaty and Visiting Forces Agreement, and highlighted the value the accord brings to both countries.

“The Secretaries discussed the importance of enhancing the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ capabilities and increasing interoperability between our two militaries through a variety of bilateral security cooperation activities.”

“The Secretaries also discussed regional security challenges, to include the South China Sea, counterterrorism, and maritime security, and affirmed the importance of upholding international rules and norms, to include the 2016 Arbitral Tribunal ruling,” Kirby said.

The Arbitral Tribunal in the South China Sea Arbitration issued a unanimous award largely favorable to the Philippines, but Beijing rejected the ruling.

This was confirmed by Lorenzana who said: “We discussed developments on the Philippines-U.S. bilateral defense relations, the Visiting Forces Agreement, Philippine-U.S. Balikatan military exercises, and the situation in the West Philippine Sea/South China Sea. Both of us expressed our desire to visit each other as soon as we can safely meet face-to-face. I look forward to sustaining our dialogues to continually strengthen our alliance.”

Austin, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, served 41 years in uniform, retiring as a four-star Army general after three years as commander of U.S. Central Command.

Last month, U.S. Department of State Spokesperson Ned Price said Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin, Jr. and they reaffirmed that a strong U.S.-Philippine alliance is vital to a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

Blinken stressed the importance of the Mutual Defense Treaty for the security of both nations, and its clear application to armed attacks against the Philippine armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft in the Pacific, which includes the South China Sea.

He also underscored that the U.S. rejects China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea to the extent they exceed the maritime zones that China is permitted to claim under international law as reflected in the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention.

Blinken pledged to stand with Southeast Asian claimants in the face of the Chinese pressure. “The two secretaries committed to continue building upon a relationship founded on shared strategic interests and history, democratic values, and strong people-to-people ties,” said Price. (Mindanao Examiner)

Army, PNP sends-off new batch of joint CSP teams in Ilocos Sur

From the Philippine Information Agency (Feb 12, 2021): Army, PNP sends-off new batch of joint CSP teams in Ilocos Sur (By Joyah Mae C. Quimoyog)

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VIGAN CITY, Feb. 12 (PIA) - Three Joint Community Support Program (CSP) teams were sent off to various barangays of the municipalities of Sta. Lucia, Sta. Cruz, and Sigay in the province of Ilocos Sur recently.

This is a part of the peace and development initiatives undertaken by the Peace and Law Enforcement Development Support (PLEDS) Cluster of the Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (PTF-ELCAC) led by the 81st Infantry (SPARTAN) Battalion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), in collaboration with the Ilocos Sur Police Provincial Office (ISPPO) and the aforesaid Local Government Units (LGUs), as a symbol of unity among them in achieving disaster and conflict resilient communities in the province.

Send-off ceremonies were conducted to the Joint CSP teams of the 81IB and combined elements from the 1st and 2nd Police Mobile Force Companies and Municipal Police Stations of Sta. Lucia and Sta Cruz on Monday, February 8.

Another send-off ceremony was also conducted in Sigay on Tuesday, February 9.

Prior to the send-off ceremonies, Governor Ryan Luis V. Singson issued Executive Order (EO) No. 08, Series of 2021 authorizing the deployment of the Joint CSP teams in the selected municipalities, which was adapted by the concerned LGUs, to show his support to the programs of the PTF-ELCAC to end insurgency.

All mayors of the concerned LGUs adapted the same EO and welcomed the joint CSP teams of the Philippine Army and the PNP to help maintain peace and deliver basic government services mainly in the far-flung and conflict-affected areas.

DEPLOYMENT OF JOINT CSP TEAMS: A barangay official in Sigay, Ilocos Sur fistbumps a member of the joint community support program team deployed in their community. (Photo by the 81st Infantry Battalion)

Sigay Mayor Carlo Crisanto Peredo wholeheartedly received the CSP teams as well as Sta. Lucia Mayor Joseph Simon Valdez who encouraged its barangay officials to cooperate with the CSP Teams, and Sta. Cruz Mayor Teresita Valle who emphasized that the presence of the armed forces in their community should not cause fear among the residents rather give them the assurance of peace and constant delivery of government services.

“Huwag kayong matakot kung pupunta ang mga kasundaluhan at kapulisan sa inyong barangay dahil hindi gulo ang kanilang dala, bagkus ay pumunta sila upang kayo ay tulungan at maihatid sa inyo ang iba’t ibang programa ng ating gobyerno,” Sta. Cruz Mayor Valle told the residents during the send-off ceremony.

Moreover, ISPPO Provincial Director Police Col. Wilson L. Doromal said, “Ang pinagsamang CSP Team ng Army at PNP ay naririto upang maiparamdam sa ating komunidad ang serbisyo mula sa ibat’-ibang ahensiya ng ating gobyerno. Ang bayan ng Sta. Cruz ay isang tahimik at umuunlad na bayan at mas maganda kung magkakaroon pa ng magandang ugnayan ang ating mga kapulisan at kasundaluhan sa kumunidad.”

Likewise, Lt. Col. Rodrigo A. Mariñas, Jr., the Commanding Officer of 81st IB added, “This Community Support Program is our mandate to support the communities to become conflict resilient, which also means extinguishing the influence of the CTGs, protecting the people, and enhancing their awareness by educating them from further deception and exploitation. But most of all, our soldiers and police personnel will serve as a link to our different government agencies to uplift the living condition of our people by delivering the different services and programs in their communities.” (JCR/JMCQ, PIA Ilocos Sur)

Newly acquired air assets to boost PH’s military capabilities- Duterte

From the Philippine Information Agency (Feb 12, 2021): Newly acquired air assets to boost PH’s military capabilities- Duterte (By Marie Joy S. Carbungco)

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CLARK AIR BASE, Pampanga, Feb.12 (PIA) -- President Rodrigo Duterte stressed that the newly-acquired air assets of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) will be a big boost to the government’s military capabilities.

“Our efforts to strengthen our military have been vital in ensuring that we are able to fulfill our sworn and shared duty of protecting our sovereignty and safeguarding the welfare of the Filipino people,” Duterte said.

He congratulated Department of National Defense (DND) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for successfully procuring additional government air assets, which according to him, play an indispensable role in safeguarding the nation.

He shared that every time an old helicopter of the military flies, he feels a bit nervous that it can falter on its own with nobody’s intervention, adding that the constant repair and reboring could take its toll on the helicopter itself.

“When I see wounded soldiers, it grieves me deeply to realize that we can improve on this in terms of fighting capability and the air worthiness. These only shows that our air assets really need to be replaced,” the Commander-In-Chief said.

With these and with the AFP’s recent gains against various terrorist groups, Duterte said he recently approved the proposal to acquire more combat utility vehicles, expressing his confidence that the government’s efforts under the AFP Modernization Program are already paying off.

President Rodrigo Duterte inspects the newly delivered air assets of the Philippine Air Force during his visit at Clark Air Base, Pampanga. (RTVM)

“I am particularly pleased with your efforts to eliminate terrorist groups in Northern Luzon which have led to the genuine peace and sustainable progress in the area, as well as fostered greater camaraderie among the government security forces operating in the region," Duterte said.

With this, he assured the AFP that he will add five more utility vehicles before his term ends.

For his part, PAF Chief Lt. Gen. Allen Paredes thanked the President for his support. “Last year has been a tough year for all of us but with the grace of God and the unending support of the President and our Secretary of National Defense, our vision to become a credible and capable Air Force is progressively coming to fruition,” he said.

Among the military’s newly delivered air assets include one unit of C-130H, six units of S70i Blackhawk Utility Helicopters, six units of A-29B Super Tucanos, six units of Hermes 900 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, and four units of Hermes 450 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.

Under the Duterte administration, PAF already received 48 aircraft in total. (CLJD/MJSC-PIA 3)

3 ELCAC dev't projects approved for Babalag East in Rizal, Kalinga

 From the Philippine Information Agency (Feb 12, 2021): 3 ELCAC dev't projects approved for Babalag East in Rizal, Kalinga (By Peter A. Balocnit)

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RIZAL, Kalinga, Feb. 12 (PIA) - - Three projects with total funding of Php20 million were approved for barangay Babalag East in this town under the End Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC) and the Retooled Community Support Program of the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

These are the construction of water system for Purok 3 in the amount of Php3 million; construction of health center building in the amount of Php2M, and the concreting of the Barroga-Baggas road with box culvert worth Php15M.

Municipal Planning and Development Coordinator Cynthia Vicente said the local government unit (LGU) of Rizal has received a notice that these projects are included in the General Appropriations Act of 2021, and that the funds will be downloaded to the provincial LGU as per the Department of Budget and Management circular.

She said the projects were selected from a checklist of priority projects during the barangay development plan enhancement conducted in October 27-29 last year.

Babalag East is one among eight recipient barangays in the Cordillera Administrative Region of ELCAC development projects that include four in Malibcong (Bayabas, Buano, Dulao and Duldulao), two in Sallapadan (Naguilian and Ud-udiao) in Abra, and Tambaon in Besao, Mountain Province.

Babalag East has an area of more than 536 hectares with population of 1,196 of different ethnic tribes. Majority of the populace are engaged in farming and poverty is prevalent in the area. (JDP/PAB-PIA CAR, Kalinga)

Duterte witnesses conferment of Order of Lapu-Lapu to 24 soldiers

From the Philippine Information Agency (Feb 12, 2021): Duterte witnesses conferment of Order of Lapu-Lapu to 24 soldiers (By Trixie Joy B. Manalili)

CLARK AIR BASE, Pampanga, Feb. 12 (PIA) -- President Rodrigo Duterte witnessed today the conferment of Order of Lapu-Lapu with the rank of Kamagi to 24 officers and enlisted personnel.

“Your gallantry, bravery and courage are truly exemplary. I hope that your fellow soldiers will look up to you as their source of inspiration and strength especially when it is their turn to face the battlefield,” he said.

These individuals contributed in restoring peace and order in Sulu last November 2020.

Order of Lapu-Lapu is given to government workers and civilians who significantly contributed and participated in the President’s campaign or advocacy.

The Commander-In-Chief likewise honored uniformed personnel who died in the helicopter crash in Bukidnon, and the others who have died in the battlefield.

“I express my deepest condolences to the families they have left behind. I hope their families, friends and comrades will take comfort in the thought that they [soldiers who died in the battlefield] are now in a more peaceful place with our Creator,” Duterte stated.

President Rodrigo Duterte lauds the bravery and gallantry of outstanding soldiers and enlisted personnel who took part in restoring peace and order in Sulu in November 2020. (RTVM)

In closing, the President lauded the dedication, commitment and selfless service of men and women of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to the Filipino people and the entire nation.

“I assure you that this administration will remain steadfast in doing our best to ensure and improve the welfare of the families who have gone ahead. Together, let us remain partners in protecting the life and liberty of all Filipinos and the sovereignty of our nation,” he noted.

Order of Lapu-Lapu with the rank of Kamagi recipients include BGen. Ignatius Patrimonio. Lt. Col. Peter Louie Solosa, Major Jiro Poblacion, Major Arnel Marcos, Lt. Aries Caguntas, Cpt. Jovy Perater, EnSign Jay-Are Pattaui, and TSg. Alvin Amodia.

Other awardees include EN2 Glenn Gampay; SSg Adrian Necessario, Sgt Frederick Padrones, BTC Marco Magno, RM3 Medsfar Aradani, EM3 Aldrin Lopez, Cpl Mark John Adornado, and S1ET Francis Kirby Transporte.

Also, S1QM Joshua Japay, Cpl Lionel Ensencio, Cpl Eric Briones, PFC Arjay Jamilla PFC Merham Jumrani, PFC Basilio Tagal, PFC Mark Angelo Pinkihan, and A2C Mherk Ian Embalzado. (CLJD/TJBM-PIA 3)

Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana (second from left) confers the Order of Lapu-Lapu with the Kamagi Rank Medal to outstanding officers and enlisted personnel. (RTVM)

22 CPP-NPA supporters in C. Luzon vow loyalty to gov't

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 12, 2021): 22 CPP-NPA supporters in C. Luzon vow loyalty to gov't (By Zorayda Tecson)

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga – At least 22 members of the MAMBAYU- Alyansang Magbubukid ng Gitnang Luzon have withdrawn their support from the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in Guimba, Nueva Ecija.

Lt. Col. Fitz Macariola, head of the Regional Mobile Force Battalion 3, in a statement on Friday said the 22 CPP-NPA supporters took their oath of allegiance to the government in Barangay Yuson, Guimba town on Thursday.

He said two teams from the 303rd Company, Regional Mobile Force Battalion, together with the 2nd Provincial Mobile Force Company (PMFC)–Nueva Ecija, Guimba Police Station, 3rd Civil Military Operations, 7th Civil Military Operations Battalion and members of the Kabataan Kontra Droga at Terorismo (KKDAT), facilitated the withdrawal of support of the 22 farmers from the terrorist organization.

The activity which was witnessed by barangay officials was highlighted with the burning of the NPA flag and a peace rally.

Last December, 19 members of the same group likewise denounced the leftist group and pledged allegiance to the government.

Brig. Gen. Valeriano T. de Leon, regional director of the Police Regional Office 3 (PRO-3), said through the continuous local peace engagement activities of the Philippine Army and the Philippine National Police such as information dissemination and situational interview, communist rebels and supporters become aware of the government's programs and the opportunities to change their lives and correct the mistakes they have committed due to deception.

“The effectiveness of the ‘Whole-of-the-Nation Approach to End Insurgency' under Executive Order 70 that institutionalizes the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) being implemented in the region as well as the efforts of Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC) have been the contributory factors for the continuous surrender of more active and former members of communist terrorist groups, including their supporters,” de Leon said in a separate statement.

He said that PRO-3, together with all member agencies of the RTF-ELCAC, will continue the whole of sector approach against communist terrorists to achieve peace and national unity.

30 ex-NPA rebels in Zambo Norte receive P1.8-M cash aid

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 12, 2021): 30 ex-NPA rebels in Zambo Norte receive P1.8-M cash aid (By Teofilo Garcia, Jr.)

CASH AID. Thirty former New People's Army (NPA) rebels receive some P1.8 million cash aid from the government. The distribution was conducted during the 1st Quarter Provincial Peace and Order Council meeting of Zamboanga del Norte and Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (TF-ELCAC) in Dipolog City, the province's capital on Feb. 10, 2021. (Photo courtesy of Army's 102nd Infantry Brigade)

Thirty former New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in the province of Zamboanga del Norte have received some PHP1.8 million in total cash assistance from the government, officials announced Friday.

Brig. Gen. Leonel Nicolas, 102nd Infantry Brigade commander, said the cash aid was distributed during the 1st Quarter Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) and Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (TF-ELCAC) meeting in Dipolog City, Zamboanga del Norte last Wednesday.

Nicolas said the financial assistance is part of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) package that will support the former rebels' transition back to the mainstream society as productive members of their communities.

Oliver Ombos, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG)-Zamboanga del Norte provincial director, said 25 of the 30 former NPAs received PHP15,000 each as immediate cash assistance and PHP50,000 livelihood assistance.

Ombos said that four, who were presented to the PPOC, received PHP20,000 each as cash assistance from the provincial government of Zamboanga del Norte, while the other received a PHP120,000 firearm remuneration for the M-14 assault rifle he surrendered.

During the meeting, the peace and order situation of Zamboanga del Norte, drug campaign updates and the TF-ELCAC accomplishments and updates were also discussed.

“We are urging the remaining members of the Western Mindanao Regional Party Committee to lay down their arms, abandon the armed struggle and pursue a peaceful life with the support of the whole nation,” Nicolas said.

Navy to decommission 4 ships in March

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 12, 2021): Navy to decommission 4 ships in March (By Priam Nepomuceno) 

Navy chief Vice Admiral Giovanni Carlo Bacordo. (File photo)

The Philippine Navy (PN) will be decommissioning four ships next month.

In a message to the Philippine News Agency (PNA) Thursday night, PN chief, Vice Admiral Giovanni Carlo Bacordo said
these are the BRP Quezon (PS-70), a former Auk-class minesweeper of the US Navy constructed during World War II and transferred to the PN in 1967; the BRP Pangasinan (PS-70), a former US Navy patrol craft escort built in 1943 and turned over to the country in 1948; the Tomas Batilo-class fast patrol craft, BRP Salvador Abcede (PC-114); and the BRP Emilio Liwanag (PC-118), which were acquired from South Korea in 1996.

"These ships have already served our nation more than enough and are now too costly to maintain," he said.

Bacordo said the PN is phasing out these ships so that the Navy can "devote more resources to our newly-acquired ships".

Earlier, the PN took delivery of its first two guided-missile frigates, the BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) and BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151), which is expected to be commissioned soon while the decommissioned Tomas Batilo-class is expected to be replaced by the Fast Attack Interdiction Craft-Missile (FAIC-M) also known as the Shaldag Mark 5 which is expected to start delivery by 2022.

Notice of Award for the FAIC-M was released by the Department of National Defense last January 4.

"We have to allocate our meager budget to maintain our more modern warships," Bacordo added.

The PN chief, however, assured the public that they have sufficient ships remaining to conduct their various missions.

"Notwithstanding, we have a sufficient number of ships to continue performing our mandate to protect our people, secure our sovereignty and the integrity of our national territory," Bacordo said.

New acting Army chief has high level of experience: Sobejana

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 12, 2021): New acting Army chief has high level of experience: Sobejana (By Priam Nepomuceno)

Incoming Philippine Army acting commander, Lt. Gen. Jose Faustino Jr. (File photo)

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff, Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana lauded the appointment of Lt. Gen. Jose Faustino Jr. as the new acting commander of the Philippines Army.

"Well (he served in) Sulu and now he is the Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) commander so as far as the experience is concerned mataas ang (he has a high) level of expertise niya sa peace and security efforts," Sobejana told reporters on Friday.

Sobejana also believed that Faustino, a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1988, will do well as acting PA chief.

When asked about Faustino's designation as acting PA chief, he said this is because the former only has less than one year remaining in military service.

"Because he has less than one year remaining in the military service, by law it should be (a) year," Sobejana said.

This designation will remain until Faustino's retirement, he added.

"Until retirement for now, pero kung may iba pang trabahong ibibigay then malalaman na lang natin (we will know if there would be other jobs that we would be given to him. We will know later)," Sobejana said.

Earlier, Malacañang named Faustino as Sobejana's successor in the PA.

Ranking NPA leader nabbed in Surigao del Sur

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 12, 2021): Ranking NPA leader nabbed in Surigao del Sur (By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan)

Photo courtesy of PNP

New People's Army (NPA) communist terrorists must pay for all the atrocities they have committed against the Filipino people, the country's top cop said on Friday.

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, Gen. Debold Sinas, made this remark
following the arrest of Rogelio de Asis alias "Dudz", the alleged leader of the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya-Caraga) and a member of the Regional White Area Committee under the Regional United Front Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA).

De Asis was arrested by police operatives at Purok 2, Barangay Matabao, Buenavista, Agusan Del Norte at around 9 p.m. Thursday.

De Asis was among the suspects in the killing of Zaldy Acidillo Ybañez (Zaldy Martinez Ybañez/Domingo) and Datu Bernandino M. Astudillo, members of the Manobo tribe and former members of the NPA on March 19, 2020 in Sitio Inadan, Barangay Magroyong, San Miguel, Surigao del Sur.

“The victims were dragged from their homes and De Asis brutally stabbed them multiple times with large bladed weapon (sundang) constituting terror and inhumane acts as to discourage other NPA members from leaving the group and from joining the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines),” Sinas said.

The arrest of de Asis stemmed from warrants of arrest for violations of Section 6 of Republic Act 9851, otherwise known as crimes against international humanitarian law, genocides, and other crimes against humanity, and murder with no bail recommended, both issued by the Tandag City, Surigao del Sur Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 27.

“To communist terrorist groups, immediately cease your terroristic plots because we will continue to hunt you down to protect the Filipino people from your atrocities”, Sinas further said. “The NPA, must comply with their obligations under Republic Act 9851 which outlaws attacks against the civilian population or individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities.”

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

No letup in CHR probe vs. child soldiers' recruitment

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 12, 2021): No letup in CHR probe vs. child soldiers' recruitment (By Lade Jean Kabagani)

MANILA – The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) will continue to investigate cases of youth recruitment within armed conflict areas, an apt way to commemorate International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers on Friday.

CHR spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia said the agency strongly condemns the involvement of children in armed conflict.

"In the Philippines, CHR has monitored and is continuously investigating cases of children in situations of armed conflict," de Guia said in a statement. "We have noted cases allegedly perpetrated by the New People's Army where children are being harmed, killed, or seriously injured in armed battles, among others."

She cited that some children are forced and abducted to become combatants while others are deceived or made to believe that joining an armed group is a chance for a better life.

"In the field, children in armed conflicts also fulfill different roles – on the front lines, acting as spies, lookouts, messengers, couriers, or running errands," de Guia said.

Employing child soldiers violates the International Humanitarian Law, which prohibits the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict and hostilities, she said.

"We remind all groups – State and non-State alike – that the use of children as soldiers is a war crime. This reprehensible act robs the young of their childhood and the chance to have a better life," de Guia said.

The event, also called Red Hand Day, is celebrated February 12 yearly since 2002 to draw attention to the plight of child soldiers, classified as under-18 participants in military organizations of all kinds.

The European Commission and the United Nations (UN) issued a statement on the use of child warriors, saying “no one has the right to steal children´s dreams or their innocence.”

“Children are tragically paying the highest price and we have the joint responsibility to build a sustainable system that protects all children at all times. We stand ready to respond to the urgent education needs of children, as education is crucial in preventing the recruitment and use of children,” read the statement that was published on the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs website.

Call to protection, gov't support

De Guia urged the government to step up its efforts to enforce pertinent laws to heighten the protection of children against illegal recruitment.

There are existing laws to protect children, such as Republic Act (RA) 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act; RA 9851 or the Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against Humanity; and RA 11188 or the Special Protection of Children in Situations of Armed Conflict Act.

"In the end, while there is a higher obligation from the government to ensure respect and protection of everyone's rights, groups and individuals also bear the duty to protect them at all times and in all situations," she said.

“CHR will continue to rally for this cause and will continue to investigate cases of child soldiers – may these allegations come from the government or rebel groups – in line with our duty as an independent national human rights institution."

Lorenzana denies downplaying effect of new China coast guard law

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 12, 2021): Lorenzana denies downplaying effect of new China coast guard law (By Priam Nepomuceno)

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. (File photo)

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Friday took exception to claims that he is downplaying the effects of China's new coast guard law on Filipino fishermen.

“With all due respect to the lady Senator (Risa Hontiveros), I did not downplay China's new coast guard law. On the contrary, I even encouraged our fishermen to continue fishing within our EEZ in their traditional fishing grounds," Lorenzana said in a statement forwarded to reporters.

The defense chief made the remarks in response to Hontiveros' statement criticizing him for allegedly downplaying the effect of the said Chinese legislation.

Lorenzana said the military is prepared to defend Filipino fisherfolks and secure the country’s territories from encroachers.

"I would like to reiterate that the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) is always ready to defend our country. While we are in conflict with many claimants in the WPS (West Philippine Sea), I (remain) an advocate of peace diplomacy,” Lorenzana said.

China's new law, which took effect on February 1, authorized its Coast Guard to "take all necessary measures, including the use of weapons" when a foreign vessel or individuals infringed upon its sovereignty".

The move is feared to result in an escalation of tension in the contested South China Sea where Manila, Beijing and several Southeast Asian states are locked in a territorial dispute.

'Not now': DND says on UP council's plea to revive accord

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 12, 2021): 'Not now': DND says on UP council's plea to revive accord (By Priam Nepomuceno)

DND spokesperson Arsenio Andolong. (File photo)

The Department of National Defense (DND) on Friday called the appeal of the University of the Philippines (UP) Council to revive the terminated 1989 agreement between the two institutions as untimely.

This is because discussions on the cancellation of the agreement that limits the movement of government security forces inside the campus have already started between DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and UP President Danilo Concepcion, Defense spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said in a statement.

"Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and UP President Danilo Concepcion have already started their dialogue and have both agreed to continue their discussion to address the issue," he added.

The dialogue between the two officials took place last February 4.

Andolong said both parties have agreed to sit down again to further express their positions on the issue, and possibly come up with an acceptable deal that would balance legal considerations and moral obligations.

"We find this appeal to be untimely and surprising since the UP President himself has said that their discussions should continue,"
he added.

Lorenzana earlier terminated the 1989 DND-UP agreement which requires government security forces to give the university administration prior notification before they conduct any operations inside UP campuses.

Exceptions to the said requirement include hot pursuit cases and ordinary transit. In abrogating the agreement on January 15, Lorenzana called the arrangement "obsolete".

He added that the agreement was used by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army to turn UP into a breeding ground of "intransigent individuals and groups whose extremist beliefs have inveigled students to join their ranks to fight against the government."

The Senate, on January 26, has adopted Resolution No. 616 urging DND and UP to “revisit” their 1989 agreement on military presence in the state university’s campuses and called for a dialogue between both parties.

Duterte confident AFP modernization program ‘already paying off’

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 12, 2021): Duterte confident AFP modernization program ‘already paying off’ (By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos)

NEW COMBAT HELICOPTERS. President Rodrigo Duterte inspects the newly-delivered air assets displayed at the Haribon Hangar of the Clark Air Base in Pampanga accompanied by Senator Christopher "Bong" Go (left) and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (right) on Friday (Feb. 12, 2021). In a speech, Duterte was confident that the delivery of new combat helicopters would inspire the military more to fulfill their duty to serve and protect the country. (Screengrab from RTVM)

President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday expressed confidence that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization Program is “already paying off,” considering the significant gains achieved by the military to maintain peace and order in the country.

In a speech delivered before his troops at the Clark Air Base in Pampanga, Duterte said he had approved the proposed acquisition of more combat utility helicopters for the AFP to allow soldiers to fulfill their role in protecting the entire nation.

“Recently, I have approved the proposal to acquire more combat utility [helicopters for] the AFP. With our recent gains against various terror groups, I am confident that our efforts under the AFP Modernization Program are already paying off,”
Duterte said.

During his visit to Pampanga, Duterte also led the inspection of the Philippine Air Force’s (PAF) newly-delivered air assets displayed at the Haribon Hangar.

The air assets include one unit of C-130H, six units of S70i Blackhawk Utility Helicopters, six units of A-29B Super Tucanos, six units of Hermes 900 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, and four units of Hermes 450 Unmanned Aerial.

The new helicopters were delivered in the country after Duterte ordered the decommissioning of all the PAF’s UH-1H “Huey” combat utility aircraft helicopters following the Jan. 16 crash in Bukidnon.

Duterte reiterated that Huey helicopters need to be replaced because these have already “come to age for retirement”.

He also congratulated the Department of National Defense and the AFP for the successful purchase of additional government air assets “that will play an indispensable role in safeguarding our nation”.

“I thank the dedicated men and women of our armed forces for their unwavering commitment and selfless service to the Filipino people and the entire nation, again, in gratitude,” Duterte said.

Duterte also hoped that the military would be more inspired to protect Filipinos against any threat, including terrorism.

“Together, let us remain partners in protecting the life and liberty of all Filipinos and sovereignty of all nations,” he said.

Before delivering his speech, Duterte also witnessed the conferment of the Order of Lapu-Lapu with the Rank of Kamagi to select awardees from the PAF, Philippine Army, and Philippine Navy.

The Kamagi Medal is awarded to those who actively participated in and contributed significantly to an activity under a campaign or advocacy of the President.

NDF/Sison: On the lies of the AFP, Tiglao, and Samonte

Posted to the National Democratic Front Philippines (NDFP or NDF) Website (Feb 10, 2021):  On the lies of the AFP, Tiglao, and Samonte

Prof. Jose Ma. Sison

NDFP Chief Political Consultant

Rigoberto Tiglao and Mauro Gia Samonte of the Manila Times are so persistent in fabricating lies against the Ninoy Aquino and the CPP that many people ask whether they are paid not only by the Manila Times and the Macapagal-Arroyo interest group but also by US and Philippine intelligence agencies and by the Duterte and Marcos interest groups. 

Others claim that Tiglao and Samonte deliberately make their lies so brazen and obvious to caricature the position of their paymasters and actually favor the CPP and the memory of Ninoy Aquino who was persecuted and martyred in the course of fighting the Marcos fascist dictatorship. 

 Most people think that Tiglao and Samonte are hacks and low-life entrepreneurs who try to benefit from as many paymasters as possible.###

NDF/Sison: Amnesty offer is one more trick of Duterte to corrupt the military and butcher the innocent

Posted to the National Democratic Front Philippines (NDFP or NDF) Website (Feb 11, 2021): Amnesty offer is one more trick of Duterte to corrupt the military and butcher the innocent

By Jose Maria Sison

NDFP Chief Political Consultant

February 11, 2021

Within the first year of his presidency, Duterte was tested by the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations and was found faking his interest in any process to address the roots of the armed conflict with comprehensive agreements on basic social, economic and political reforms.

He failed to fulfil his promise to amnesty and release all political prisoners in order to propel the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations. Instead, he made only a token release of only 22 political prisoners, not on the basis of amnesty but on bailability in August 2016.

Now, he announces the formation of a National Amnesty Commission and offers amnesty on his unilateral terms that are humiliating to the beneficiaries. He does so after having done the following: complying with the US order to destroy the CPP and NPA by purely military means, terminating the peace negotiations, categorizing rebels as terrorists, forming the NTF-ELCAC and signing his law of state terrorism.

The offer of amnesty is another malicious and criminal trick of the fascist Duterte regime to entice the victims to a death trap. It is no different from previous tricks to make so many people appear as surrenderers under such psywar catch-phrases as “localized peace talks”, “E-CLIP”, “community support program” and “barangay development program”, which are blinding terms to cover the malversation of public funds.

These are all schemes of militarizing civilian agencies and functions and corrupting military officers with public money that they pocket privately in the name of causing the surrender or amnesty and rehabilitation of people who are mostly fake surrenderers.

Worst of all, those surrenderers are liable to be subsequently murdered because there are higher cash rewards for their murder by military officers. The military has copied the Oplan Tokhang method of having people listed up as surrenderers (or in Filipino English, “surrenderees”) and subsequently slaughtering them with total impunity and with open blessings of the tyrant Duterte.###

CPP/STRC-PIO: Ang tiranya, pasismo at inhustisya sa paghahari ng rehimeng US-Duterte ang nagrerekrut ng paparaming bilang ng NPA

Propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (Feb 9, 2021): Ang tiranya, pasismo at inhustisya sa paghahari ng rehimeng US-Duterte ang nagrerekrut ng paparaming bilang ng NPA


FEBRUARY 09, 2021

Nahihintakutan si Duterte, Lorenzana at Parlade sa multo ng komunismo at armadong pakikibaka na rumaragasa sa buong bayan. Hanggang sa pagtulog, binabangungot sila ng multong nilikha ng isang sistemang mapagsamantala at mapang-api. Sa lahat ng sulok ng lipunan, pulos Pula ang nakikita nila—pulang sumasagisag sa nagngangalit na mamamayang uhaw sa katarungan ng kanilang kaapihan at naghahangad ng paglaya’t katubusan mula sa kuko ng nagpapahirap na malakolonyal at malapyudal na lipunang pinaghaharian ng sasandakot na mga oligarko at tirano.

Sinasaklot ng takot sina Duterte, Lorenzana, Parlade at buong hanay ng mga panatikong anti-komunista na nasa NTF-ELCAC, AFP at PNP sa pangitain ng lumalawak na paglaban ng mamamayan na naghahangad na tapusin ang tiraniko at pasistang paghahari ng rehimeng US-Duterte. Kaya naman, inihilera nito ang buong makinarya ng karahasan at panlilinlang ng burukratiko-militar na estado—armadong pwersa, hukuman, kulungan, burukrasyang sibil at mga institusyon sa edukasyon at kultura—upang supilin at kitlin ang demokratikong karapatan ng mamamayan at bansagang “terorista at komunista” ang lahat ng mga kritiko at nagpapahayag ng karaingan mula sa malapad na hanay ng demokratikong oposisyon at pwersa sa lipunan.

Marahas na inaatake ng rehimen at mersenaryong militar at pulis ang matahimik na pagtitipon ng mamamayan para magpahayag ng karaingan. Binabantaan at ginigipit nito ang malayang pamamahayag at pag-ehersisyo ng mga karapatang sibil at demokratiko na ginagarantiyahan ng sariling burges na konstitusyon. Minimilitarisa nito ang social media at mga demokratikong institusyon. Inaakala ng mga pasista at militarista na sa ganitong paraan tuluyang masisikil ang paghahanap ng bayan ng tunay na solusyon sa mga nagnanaknak na sakit ng lipunang Pilipino.

Kamakailan lamang, pinaigting ng rehimen sa pamamagitan ng NTF-ELCAC ang red-tagging at pag-atake sa kalayaang akademiko ng mga unibersidad at kolehiyo batay sa paratang at likha-ng-imahinasyon ng mga pasista sa diumanong nagaganap na malawakang rekrutment ng CPP at NPA. Sinundan ito ng unilateral na pagpapawalambisa ni Lorenzana sa UP-DND Accord ng 1989 na gumagarantiya laban sa arbitraryong panghihimasok ng mga armadong pwersa ng estado sa mga campus ng UP nang walang koordinasyon sa kinauukulang otoridad ng unibersidad. Proteksyon ito para sa malayang pag-ehersisyo sa kalayaang akademiko at pamamahayag para sa pagsusulong ng kaalaman sa iba’t ibang aspeto ng karunungan sa larangan ng natural na syensya, pulitika, ekonomya, sining at syensyang panlipunan.

Nais pigilan ng rehimeng US-Duterte ang kalayaan sa pag-iisip at pamamahayag sa mga unibersidad at akademya na naghuhulma sa edukasyon at kaisipan ng masang mag-aaral at mga petiburges na intelektwal na maging mapanuri at kritikal sa mga nangyayaring inhustisya’t korapsyon sa lipunan. Nais nitong supilin at kitlin ang kalayaang akademiko at ang pagpapaunlad ng kritikal na pag-iisip sa akademya sa pagsusulong ng karunungan at kaalaman upang halinhan ito ng bulag, panatiko at pasistang ideolohiya sa tipo ng Nazi Storm Trooper ni Hitler sa Germany.

Subalit sa marahas na pagsikil sa mga demokratikong karapatan at kalayaang sibil ng mamamayan sa lipunan, pinakikitid mismo ng rehimen ang demokratikong espasyo para sa pagsusulong ng mga panlipunang reporma at di sinasadyang itinutulak ang mamamayan na maghanap ng mas radikal at rebolusyonaryong solusyon upang lutasin ang kanilang mga suliranin at resolbahin ang hindi matapus-tapos na krisis ng lipunang malakolonyal at malapyudal.

Matagal nang pasó at pinasubalian ng kasaysayan na ang anti-komunistang panunugis sa balangkas ng McCarthyismo sa US ng dekada 1950 at katumbas nitong anti-komunistang panunugis ng Committee on Anti-Filipino Activity (CAFA) sa Kongreso noong 1961 sa Pilipinas ay lalo lamang nagpalagablab sa paglaban ng sambayanan at armadong pakikibaka sa buong bayan.

Muling inuulit at binubuhay ng rehimeng Duterte at NTF-ELCAC ang panunugis sa lahat ng mga kritiko at progresibo sa ngalan ng “anti-terorismo at anti-komunismo” upang kitlin ang isang ideyang nakaugat sa malawak na paglaban ng sambayanan at nagtataguyod ng kanilang pambansa at demokratikong interes at adhikain.

Nahihibang si Duterte at ang mga tulad niyang pasista at ultra-Kanang sina Delfin Lorenzana at Antonio Parlade kung inaakala nilang mapipigilan nila ang paglaki ng New People’s Army sa mga ginagawa nilang pagsikil at pagsupil sa mga demokratikong karapatan ng mga kabataang estudyante, kaguruan at mga progresibong intelektwal sa lipunan.

Ang klima ng pasismo, malaganap na inhustisya, kabulukan, paghihikahos at pagsasamantala ang matabang lupa na nagtutulak sa paparaming naliliwanagang mga kabataang estudyante at intelektwal na makipagkaisa at lumahok sa pakikibaka ng masang anakpawis. Ang mga pundamental na problemang panlipunan ang obhetibong kundisyon na nagtutulak sa kanila na magrebolusyon.

Sa kasaysayan ng pakikibaka ng sambayanang Pilipino, libu-libong mga kabataan, guro at mga intelektwal ang ikinulong, dinukot at pinaslang ng reaksyunaryong estado dahil sa kanilang pampultikang paniniwala at patriotismo. Nariyan ang mga aktibistang biktima ng diktadurang Marcos tulad nina Rizalina Ilagan, Cristina Catalla, Bong Sison, Ramon Jasul, Jerry Faustino at Leticia Pascual Ladlad, pawang mga mag-aaral ng UP Los Baños at si Jessica Sales, propesor mula sa UPLB na dinukot noong panahon ng diktadurang US-Marcos.
Subalit, nariyan din sina Lt. Victor Corpuz, Lt. Crispin Tagamolila at General Raymundo Jarque at marami pa na umanib sa NPA. Nariyan si Capt. Danilo Vizmanos na umanib sa pambansa-demokratikong pakikibaka ng mamamayan. Lahat sila’y tumawid ng bakod para lumahok sa rebolusyonaryong pakikibaka ng mamamayan matapos maliwanagan sa malaganap na inhustisya, pagsasamantala at kabulukan ng naghaharing sistema sa Pilipinas at ng mersenaryo at kontra-mamamayang tradisyon ng AFP at dating Philippine Constabulary.

Ang mga katulad ni Duterte, Lorenzana at Parlade ang lalong nagtutulak sa mamamayan upang organisahin ang kanilang sarili at kumilos para ibagsak ang mapang-aping estado ng lokal na mga naghaharing-uri sa Pilipinas. Ang namamayani at tumitinding inhustisya at kawalang kalayaan sa bansa ang siyang pangunahing nagmumulat sa mamamayan upang tahakin ang landas ng armadong pakikibaka. Mula man sila sa mga unibersidad, sakahan, pagawaan, maralitang komunidad at mga reaksyunaryong institusyon, ang krisis ng naghaharing sistema ay naghahasik ng binhi ng paglaban at radikalisasyon ng mga api’t pinagsasamantalahang uri at sektor upang magrebolusyon. Saan mang bahagi na may pagsasamantala at inhustisya, lilitaw ang paglaban at mataba ang lupa para sa rebolusyon.

Ang inhustisyang ito ang siyang nagmumulat sa bagong henerasyon ng mga kabataang rebolusyonaryo tulad nila Josephine Lapira, John Carlo Capistrano Alberto, Rona Jane Manalo at sa marami pang tumahak sa landas ng armadong rebolusyon bilang tanging landas para sa tunay na pagbabagong panlipunan. Sa ganito sila kinikilala at pinaparangalan ngayon ng masang magsasaka, manggagawa at maralitang kanilang nakasalamuha, namulat, naorganisa at napakilos para sa pagsusulong ng demokratikong rebolusyong bayan. Sa ganito rin tinatanganan at tatanganan pa ng libu-libong mga kabataan, magsasaka, manggagawa at maralita mula sa kanayunan at kalunsuran ang kanilang mga simulain at dakilang adhikain para sa ganap na kalayaan at hustisyang panlipunan. ###