Thursday, September 9, 2021

2 Abu Sayyaf bandits yield in Basilan

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 9, 2021): 2 Abu Sayyaf bandits yield in Basilan (By Teofilo Garcia, Jr.)

ABU SAYYAF SURRENDERERS. Two Abu Sayyaf Group members (3rd from left and 3rd from right) surrender in Basilan province on Sept. 8, 2021 to live a peaceful life. They were turned over to the custody of local government officials in preparation for their enrolment in the rehabilitation and reintegration programs of the government. (Photo courtesy of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao Public Affairs Office)

Two former members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) involved in high-profile atrocities are now being processed to avail of the rehabilitation program of the government after they surrendered in Basilan province.

Rear Adm. Toribio Adaci Jr., Naval Forces Western Mindanao (NFWM) commander, on Thursday identified the two ASG surrenderers only through their aliases – Mubin and Daky – for security reasons.

Adaci said Mubin and Daky surrendered in Ungkaya Pukan town on September 8, through the efforts of the Naval Task Force 61, the 18th Infantry Battalion, and local government officials.

He said the two yielded an M16A1 and Garand rifles.

The two were involved in the Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay attack in 1995, Sipadan kidnapping in 2000, Lamitan siege in 2001, and other atrocities in Basilan.

“The ASG members finally gave themselves up after years of fleeing Focused Military Operations (FMO) in western Mindanao. They are exhausted and they missed their families. Thus, they chose to give up and live a normal life,” Adaci said.

He said Mubin and Daky were turned over to the custody of Mayor Darussalam Lajid of Al-Barka town and Vice Mayor Jomar Maturan of Ungkaya Pukan for proper disposition, including their enrollment in the reintegration and rehabilitation program of the government.

PH Navy deploys disaster response teams for 'Jolina', 'Kiko'

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 9, 2021): PH Navy deploys disaster response teams for 'Jolina', 'Kiko' (By Priam Nepomuceno)

Photo courtesy of Philippine Navy

The Philippine Navy (PN) has activated its disaster response and recovery teams (DDRTs) to help communities affected by Typhoons Jolina and Kiko.

In a statement Thursday, Navy spokesperson, Commander Benjo Negranza said these DRRTs, composing of the Naval Task Force (NTF) 83, were earlier deployed in Marikina City due to the heavy rains brought by "Jolina".

"NTF 83 has been organized since September 6. Its deployment is also in preparation for the imminent impact of the potential Super Typhoon Kiko as it moves closer to the eastern part of the country. They are composed of fleet and marine forces from (the) Manila and Cavite area and are equipped with rubber boats, trucks and other necessary rescue and mobility equipment," he added.

Negranza also said other PN operating forces in Northern Luzon, Southern Luzon, and Cebu have also ensured the preparedness of their respective disaster response and recovery teams for humanitarian assistance and disaster response deployment.

"The PN always stands ready to render necessary assistance and services to the Filipino people especially in times of disasters, calamities, and emergencies through its fully-equipped and deployable DRRTs," he added.

As this developed, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reminded all DRRMCs to continue monitoring weather developments and implement preparedness measures.

The NDRRMC also advised the public to monitor weather updates, take precautionary measures, heed evacuation notices issued by their local government units and follow warnings and advisories alongside the observance of minimum health standards for protection against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

BDP projects to benefit over 2.3M indigents: DILG

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 9, 2021): BDP projects to benefit over 2.3M indigents: DILG (By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan)

Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año said a total of 2,318,892 poor individuals residing in Northern Mindanao, Davao Region, and Caraga will benefit from the Barangay Development Program (BDP) projects being implemented in these areas.

During President Rodrigo Duterte's Talk to the People aired on Wednesday, Año said that from 2016 to 2019, 822 barangays were declared by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) as free from the infestation by New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

“Ito ang mga barangay na matagal nang na-exploit ng CPP-NPA dahil sa kakulangan ng basic services at development sa kabuuan po ang makikinabang sa project na ito ay 2,318,892 na mahihirap nating kababayan na ngayon ay nabigyan ng buhay at pag-asa, at ito po ang pinakamabisang solusyon sa insurhensiya (These are barangays that have long been exploited by the CPP-NPA due to lack of basic services and development in total will benefit from this project. 2,318,892 of our poor compatriots have now been given life and hope, and this is the most effective solution to insurgency),” Año said.

He emphasized that the barangays in these regions, specifically in the Indigenous People (IP) ancestral domain areas have long been exploited by the CPP-NPA due to the lack of basic services and development.

The DILG chief also revealed that PHP16.44 billion worth of Barangay Development Program (BDP) projects were allotted to the barangays previously infested by the CPP-NPA where the national government, LGUs, and barangay officials convened to determine what development projects should be implemented in these isolated areas.

Año revealed that each concerned barangay will receive a PHP20 million allocation for their respective development projects, which are classified as infrastructure and non-infrastructure.

For infrastructure projects, Año reported that 928 farm-to-market roads amounting to P11.6 billion were constructed in 747 barangays while 157 health station projects in 150 barangays valued at PHP498,726,376 were finished.

He added that 150 school building projects worth PHP600,678,016, 518 water and sanitation system projects worth PHP2.3 billion, and 173 rural and electrification projects worth PHP491 million were completed in 157 barangays.

A total of PHP129,200,000 were spent for the reconstruction, rehabilitation, repair, and 32 other projects pertaining to natural or human-induced calamities while seven housing projects amounting to PHP22,400,000 were done in seven barangays.

Thirty other infrastructure projects like agricultural, evacuation, communication, coronavirus disease-2019 (Covid-19) facilities were completed at a cost of PHP78,400,000.

For non-infrastructure projects, Año reported that PHP283 million was earmarked for 177 agricultural, livelihood, technical, and personal training projects while PHP17 million was allotted for eight Covid-19 vaccination, immunization, and other health-related projects.

He added that 103 projects for assistance to indigent individuals or families were provided costing PHP119,046,019.

As of Sept. 2, Año stated that 182 projects are in the implementation stage, 782 projects are in the procurement stage and 1,319 others are in the pre-procurement stage.

DILG Undersecretary and NTF-ELCAC spokesperson Jonathan Malaya earlier said the DILG shall conduct stringent monitoring of the more than 2,000 BDP initiatives to ensure the progress of each project is adhering to the set guidelines and standard of the law.

For next year, the BDP has allotted funds for the development projects in 1,406 barangays, mostly located in Samar and Bicol provinces.

Last month, Monico Batle, NTF-ELCAC action officer on BDP said the budget intended for the BDP could not be used by the local government executives (LCEs) for the 2022 elections.

This came after Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon warned that the NTF-ELCAC’s proposed PHP40 billion budget for 2022 could be used as an “election giveaway”.

Batle said Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act has enough safeguards to protect the NTF-ELCAC funds for development projects specifically intended for the villages cleared of communist terrorist group (CTG) influence.

He also assured that the NTF-ELCAC funds will be used for the projects stipulated under the BDP.

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.

Lorenzana says PH-US Mutual Defense Treaty needs ‘revisions’

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 9, 2021): Lorenzana says PH-US Mutual Defense Treaty needs ‘revisions’ (By Priam Nepomuceno)

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (File photo)

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said key areas in the Philippines' Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) with the United States need to be updated to make it more current and relevant in the existing security situation.

Speaking at a forum on Wednesday night (Manila time) organized by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies for the 70th anniversary of the Philippines-US MDT, Lorenzana said these include the reiteration and further clarification of the precise extent of the Washington DC's commitments to Manila under the MDT and other issues in accordance with the 2016 arbitral tribunal award by the Hague.

Lorenzana said this is "immensely relevant" amid rising tensions in the South China Sea, including a possible Chinese Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) declaration, forcible expulsion of Filipino troops stationed over the Second Thomas Shoal (part of Philippine continental shelf), or reclamation and militarization of the Scarborough Shoal.

"As we ramp up our efforts to improve our facilities in the Spratly features within Philippine continental shelf and control, the issue of alliance commitments will become even more important,"
Lorenzana said.

Signed on Aug. 30, 1951, the MDT is an accord that stipulates that the Philippines and the US would support each other if either of them were to be attacked by an external party.

Lorenzana added that revisions and additions in the MDT and other relevant Philippines-US defense agreements are essential to ensure maximum possible cooperation and interoperability to deal with so-called "gray zone" threats, namely state-sanctioned/supported maritime militia forces, that have been intimidating smaller claimant states and their fishermen in recent years.

"The US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim has publicly suggested that the MDT could also apply to this type of hybrid warfare strategy deployed by the likes of China. But we need more specific operational discussions and, eventually, joint activities within the bounds of our existing defense commitments," Lorenzana added.

As the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) embarked on a multi-billion dollar modernization program aimed at addressing current and future security concerns in its vast maritime domain, the defense chief added that it is about time for the US to provide more assistance to the Philippines, which has been its long-time ally.

"In this light, we believe it’s important that we go beyond ‘Vietnam era’ hardware in bilateral grants and purchases and, accordingly, move towards acquisition of evermore advanced weapons systems that will allow us to have a 'minimum deterrence’ capability against external threats and adversaries. Non-treaty allies countries have been receiving billion-dollar military aid and advanced weapons systems from the US. Perhaps, a long-time ally like the Philippines, facing major adversaries in Asia, deserves as much, if not more assistance and commitment," Lorenzana said.

While the existing MDT has been helpful to the Philippines, Lorenzana said the agreement is not sufficient to enable the country to stand on its own feet, hence the need for an upgrade.

"In summary, the MDT has been beneficial to the Philippines, but not enough to make it stand on its own feet. We cannot be forever relying on others for our security. Helping the Philippines modernize its military would make it a more reliable and dependable ally to the United States in the pursuit of a free and peaceful Indo-Pacific," Lorenzana said.

Parlade named National Security Council exec

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 9, 2021): Parlade named National Security Council exec (By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos)

Retired Southern Luzon Command (Solcom) chief Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. (File photo)

President Rodrigo Duterte has tapped retired Southern Luzon Command (Solcom) chief Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. as the new deputy director-general of the National Security Council (NSC), Malacañang announced Thursday.

Parlade’s appointment paper was signed on Wednesday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a press statement.

“The Palace confirms that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signed the appointment of Mr. Antonio G. Parlade, Jr. yesterday, September 8, 2021, as Deputy Director-General of the National Security Council,” Roque said.

Roque said the Palace wishes Parlade well in his new assignment and is confident that the former military official would have a significant contribution in crafting plans and policies affecting national security.

“Deputy Director-General Parlade faithfully served the Armed Forces of the Philippines for many years until his retirement from the service. We are therefore confident that his length of fruitful service in the military would immensely contribute in the crafting of plans and policies affecting national security,” he said.

The NSC, created on July 1, 1950 through Executive Order 330, provides technical support to the Council Proper and policy advice to the President on national security.

Parlade on July 25 retired from the military after 38 years of service.

He is a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1987.

As a former Solcom commander, Parlade pursued the implementation of campaign plans that seek to neutralize or destroy the remaining community terrorist groups (CTGs) operating in Southern Luzon.

Parlade also led Solcom in stakeholder engagements and community support programs to address issues that the CTGs exploit for their propaganda.

He was also instrumental in the activation of humanitarian assistance and disaster response task groups, in close coordination with disaster risk reduction and management councils, which enabled Solcom to respond to any eventualities, especially during the unrest of the Taal Volcano.